Regina family donates AED to school

November 16, 2017

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Regina family donates AED to school

Most people go about their days without a back-up plan, without a carefully thought out method of how to respond if their health suddenly fails, most of us don’t have to. For the Fizzards, where three out of the four family members have Brugada syndrome, which could mean sudden death via heart failure, they are keenly aware of such things.

Amber Gorman presents Ben and the Fizzard family with a plaque thanking them for their donation of an AED to Wascana Plains School. Photos: Communications

In 2011, Benjamin, son of Sheldon and Andrea Fizzard, was playing tag outdoors at school one day, when he started to feel faint. All of a sudden, he lost consciousness. He had gone into cardiac arrest and there was no defibrillator nearby.

“His heart rate thankfully just returned after that cardiac event, with no CPR,” said Sheldon.

Thankfully, Ben did not suffer any long-term damage and his father joked he was ready to leave the hospital within an hour, not sure what all the fuss was about.

Andrea, Ben and his sister Emma all have Brugada syndrome, a condition that causes a disruption of the heart's normal rhythm. There are several ways in which they have modified their lifestyles to better manage the disorder and having a defibrillator nearby is absolutely essential.

“You truly think this can’t happen to me or my child but it can and it does,” said Andrea.

This is why the Fizzard family, who have one at home, bought an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) for the school their children attend, École Wascana Plains School. 

“Ben’s family decided what happened to Ben was super scary and if it happens to anybody else in our school or in our community an AED can make the difference between whether a person lives or dies,” said Principal Jeanette Revet to a group of students.

Ben and Emma’s classmates were gathered to see Amber Gorman, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region’s Public Access Defibrillator Program co-ordinator, present the Fizzard family a plaque thanking them for their donation to the public school. An AED costs approximately $2,000.

Gorman said the AED is very user-friendly and if necessary, a child could use it. “All you have to do is turn it on, it will tell you exactly what to do. You don’t have to be a certain age to use it.”

The AED and the plaque will be installed in a hallway at the school.

“It’s important to us that you guys have access to that just in case,” said Sheldon to the children. “Hopefully that thing stays on the wall and collects the biggest layer of dust you’ve ever seen but at least you know it’s there if you need it.”

The school also has a portable AED that will always travel with the children on field trips.

Gorman also helped Revet register the AED online with the PAD Program. When an AED is registered, 911 dispatch will send out an alert to the registered phone numbers notyfying them that someone nearby is having a heart attack.

Individuals or organizations can sign up for texts or calls and the address will be provided. If someone with an AED can make it to the address before paramedics, it increases that person’s chance of survival.

Regina has the highest rate of survival in all of Canada for surviving cardiac arrests, said Gorman.  

For more on the Public Access Defibrillator Program and information on where to purchase an AED, email or call 306-766-6265.
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