Defibrillators are now required by law in designated public buildings in Manitoba. The devices deliver an electric shock to restart a stopped heart and are programmed to detect if a person is having an irregular heart rhythm that indicates potential cardiac arrest.
"A cardiac arrest can occur anywhere at any time. Having a defibrillator close by can save someone's life and this new legislation ensures busy public places will have one ready in case of an emergency," said Health Minister Erin Selby.
"Other jurisdictions across Canada and internationally are looking to replicate our legislation and I'm proud our province is considered to be a leader in this initiative."
Manitoba was the first province in the country to develop legislation requiring public places to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) available on-site, said the government. Under the Defibrillator Public Access Act, designated facilities include several types of high-traffic public places where cardiac arrest is more likely to occur such as gyms, indoor arenas, certain community centres, golf courses, schools and airports.
To make it easier for non-profit and community-owned public facilities to acquire the life-saving devices, the Manitoba government provided more than $1.3 million to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba for 1,000 defibrillators.
In addition, the province partnered with the foundation to negotiate with multiple distributors to provide discounts ranging from 30 per cent to 40 per cent off the regular retail price to make it easier for facilities designated under the new legislation to purchase a defibrillator.
The legislation also supports public access in an emergency by requiring signage to identify the locations of defibrillators and require they be centrally registered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The registry information is shared with emergency medical service dispatchers to help those trying to care for a cardiac arrest victim find the nearest defibrillator. As of Dec. 31, there were 2,291 AEDs registered in Manitoba.