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Life-saving heart defibrillators will soon be available at every Toronto District School Board (TDSB) secondary school, outdoor education centre, and administrative site thanks to the generous donation by The Mikey Network, a non-profit organization that places the devices in community facilities across the province.
The Mikey Network is donating 120 Mikeys (public-access defibrillators), plus the cost of training of up to eight staff at each location, to the TDSB. This represents the single largest donation of defibrillators by the organization since its inception in 2003. The donation package is valued at approximately $400,000 and all Mikeys will be installed by September 2008.
“I want to congratulate the leadership of The Mikey Network because I know that these Mikeys will save lives. Cardiac arrest victims who have access to heart defibrillators increase their chances of survival significantly,” said Ontario’s Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson.
“This donation adds a higher level of security for our students, staff, and community,” said Sheila Ward, chair of the TDSB. “We hope we never have to use these defibrillators, but their availability and the presence of people trained in their use may save lives.”
The location of a Mikey in each of the TDSB’s 102 secondary schools will not only benefit the Board’s 96,000 secondary students and staff, but an additional 99,000 people per week who attend continuing education classes and community programs and events at the schools. “As many as 10 in every 1,000 high school students have some form of congenital heart disease and some of them may be at increased risk for cardiac arrest,” says Dr. Joel Kirsh, cardiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children. “Our hope is that the defibrillators will save their lives if they have a sudden cardiac arrest, as well as other adults and children who may go into sudden cardiac arrest as a result of an undiagnosed cardiac condition.”
“More Mikeys means more second chances at life for people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest,” said Hugh Heron, principal and partner in the Heron Group of Companies, and co-founder of The Mikey Network. “We are very proud of our partnership with the TDSB in this life-saving initiative, and we can’t think of a better place to help educate the public about defibrillators than the city’s school board locations.
Toronto Emergency Services will train TDSB staff at each site on the use of defibrillators over the next year. Once the training is complete, each site is expected to have at least one trained operator available from the time the school or site opens in the morning to when the last person leaves at night.
More than 90 per cent of people in cardiac arrest require an electrical shock from a defibrillator to convert their heart rhythm to normal. A public-access defibrillator gives victims a fighting chance and increases their chance of survival by up to 50 per cent. Mikeys are about the size of a laptop computer and administer the electrical charge through two soft pads that are attached to the person’s chest.