The City of Campbell River will purchase an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the Overdose Prevention Site after a letter from a local paramedic pointed out it doesn’t have one. Black Press File Photo

City of Campbell River to buy defibrillator for downtown Overdose Prevention Site

Local paramedic pens letter asking for city's assistance after trying other avenues to acquire AED

When Dave Howsen, community paramedic for Campbell River, was working with the folks at the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society’s Overdose Prevention Site downtown during their training, he discovered they didn’t have an automated external defibrillator (AED).

So he set about getting them one.

“For a busy facility frequented by many high risk members of our community I thought this was an unacceptable situation,” Howsen writes in a letter received by Campbell River city council recently.

VIMHS itself didn’t have the money for one, Howsen says, as COVID-19 had tapped their resources.

“I then attempted to acquire one from the BCEHS/Heart and Stroke public access to defibrillator program, but this seems to have been discontinued,” Howsen says. So he turned to the city to see if it could help.

“There are rare instances where Fire and Rescue is unavailable for medical calls, one of these occurred last Thursday due to a fire, and as you are no doubt aware there are many instances where BC Ambulance does not have resources immediately available to dispatch even to the most time sensitive events,” Howsen writes. “This can result in a delay for access to a defibrillator at this location. Even in ideal circumstances where paramedics arrive in five minutes, or (the fire department) arrives sometime before that, I still believe that the OPS should be equipped with their own AED like other facilities where the public gathers. Each minute in cardiac arrest can represent a 10 per cent increase in mortality and I hope we can advocate for our most vulnerable community members by having an AED on hand should it be required.”

It didn’t take long for council to find the money to supply an AED for the facility once it received Howsen’s letter.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield made a motion to take $2,000 from the city’s Gaming Reserve and purchase an AED for the facility.

“I think it’s really important that we have defibrillators around our community,” Cornfield says. “The more the better, especially if we can get them spread out. I hope this will be just the first of what I hope will be a number of them.”

The motion passed unanimously.

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