A new 'Save Station Tower' has been installed at Innisfil Beach Park, to help save lives.
Mayor Lynn Dollin, Deputy Mayor Dan Davidson, Coun. Bill Van Berkel, MP John Brassard, and MPP Andrea Khanjin were all on-site Wednesday morning for the unveiling of the free-standing tower equipped with a life-saving AED (automated external defibrillator).
Cardiac arrest survivor and Katrysha Gellis with Action First Aid was MC of the event. Gellis joined the Action First Aid team after suffering from cardiac arrest five years ago at the age of 30 while eating lunch at work.
"I was eating lunch with colleagues at work, and without warning, I suddenly stopped breathing, lost consciousness, and fell to the ground, and I had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest," she shared.
Her colleagues did all they could to help, including CPR and calling 911, as there were no AEDs located inside the office.
Thankfully a crew of firemen was around the corner from her office who was quickly able to get to the scene with an AED to help save her life.
"Without the quick actions of my colleagues, without CPR, and without the defibrillator, my story might have been very different and I may not be here standing here talking to you today," said Gellis.
The SaveStation tower at Innisfil Beach Park lights up at night and is marked for public use.
The Peggy Hill Team and Mortgage Wellness co-sponsored the Innisfil SaveStation Tower and the Zoll AED 3 housed inside.
Nick L’Ecuyer, co-sponsor and principal broker at Mortgage Wellness, feels a deep sense of connection to the Town of Innisfil.
"We identified the SaveStation project as an opportunity to have our community roots grow even deeper and show thanks to the great people of Innisfil who have supported Mortgage Wellness for all these years,” he said.
The sponsors, in conjunction with Action First Aid and the Town of Innisfil, selected Innisfil Beach Park as an ideal site for this SaveStation because, as a main attraction in Innisfil, the park sees a steady flow of visitors throughout the year, just this past weekend, there were 3,600 cars that came through the gates of the park. The tower will give the public quick access to an AED in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest can help save a life.
"We thank you very much for thinking of the Town of Innisfil and putting it here," said Mayor Dollin. "I hope we never have to use it but I am certainly glad it's here when we need it."
"We know how many people in the community use this park and we want to do our part to ensure they are safe while enjoying everything Innisfil has to offer!” said co-sponsor and CEO Peggy Hill.
Visitors to Innisfil Beach Park will now have 24/7 access to an AED, which is safe for anyone to use in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. To ensure that everyone feels confident to step in and take action, there is a QR code on the SaveStation that links to a step-by-step instructional video that provides a quick overview about how to use the AED that is housed inside.
The SaveStation Tower keeps the AED warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The AED is equipped with a device that provides 24/7 monitoring of the AED status and location, GPS tracking, and hands-free two-way communication with emergency services. This technology has been around in Europe for over 12 years now, and Action First Aid has been working hard to bring this life-saving equipment to North America.
"We have a lot of defibrillators outdoors, but we need to get them outdoors where we enjoy places like this (Innisfil Beach Park)," said SaveStation co-founder, Deb Hennings.
When sudden cardiac arrest strikes, we are highly dependent on the public to step in and help. AEDs are safe for anyone to use and placing these life-saving devices in an accessible outdoor public space will help save more lives from sudden cardiac arrest.
Innisfil resident and cardiac arrest survivor George Padanyi was also at Wednesday's event to show his support. In 2019, he experienced sudden cardiac arrest while playing hockey. Thanks to the quick actions of 17-year-old Raychel Gillis who was watching the game was saved by her performing CPR and using the AED.
"A couple of shots with the defibrillator and more CPR, my heart started again and I started to breathe," he recalled. "I am living proof that AEDs actually work."
Padanyi is now crowdfunding through SaveStation to bring another outdoor AED to the Innisfil Recreation Centre.
In Canada, approximately 40,000 people suffer out of hospital cardiac arrests every year; the majority happening at home or in a public place. Currently, only 10 per cent of people survive but studies show that the immediate use of an AED combined with CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) can increase the likelihood of survival by 75 per cent.
The hope is that this first SaveStation in Innisfil will inspire more placements of 24/7 accessible AEDs throughout the community. Anyone can sponsor a SaveStation or start a crowdfunding campaign to place outdoor SaveStations in high traffic areas and residential neighbourhoods throughout the town - helping to create a truly cardiac safe community.