EHS donation of AED to Donkin community has special meaning
Cape Breton Post
March 5, 2019
By: Keigan MacLeod
From left, Shawn Luker, director of the Cape Breton Housing Authority, demonstrates the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator) along with Krista Lane, Emergency Health Services community relations paramedic, and Michael Janczyszyn, EHS AED registry co-ordinator, last week at the Donkin Seniors Complex. - Keigan MacLeod
When Wilfred Edmunds recounts his near-death experience, the listener immediately understands his good fortune that day.
Edmunds was attending Remembrance Day services at Donkin’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 5 two years ago and he was to place a wreath during the annual ceremony. But when he walked down into the basement and bent over to pick up a wreath, he suddenly fell to the ground, suffering a cardiac arrest.
“I dropped and that was it,” he said.
Luckily for Edmunds, it was Remembrance Day and five nurses, a paramedic and a naval serviceman were taking part in the ceremony and were able to help him. Using both artificial respiration and an AED (automated external defibrillator), which was located in a police car, they were able to revive him.
“I was gone for about 12-15 minutes, they tell me,” he said. “They say you’re supposed to be revived by 10 minutes or you’re brain dead.”
The paramedic who assisted the group in reviving Edmunds was Allister Edwards with Emergency Health Services, who has worked in Sydney for the past 30 years. A humble man, he said reviving Edmunds was a team effort which wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of everyone involved.
“I was just here in case they needed some help. Allison MacDonald did continuous CPR on him, assisted by the nurses and navy man and myself, so he was in pretty good hands.”
Miraculously, according to Edmunds, MacDonald had just taken a CPR course a week before.
“Everything fell into place,” he said.
Edmunds and Edwards renewed acquaintances last week in a ceremony that saw one of these live-saving devices find a permanent home in Donkin.
Thanks to Edwards and EHS, Donkin now has an AED in the foyer of the seniors complex on Second Street, just across the street from the legion.
On hand for the presentation were a couple of dozen people representing the legion, the community’s seniors complex, EHS and the Cape Breton Housing Authority.
“The legion is a focal point here in the community,” said Edwards. “Not only that, (but) the population here in the area is aging, so I thought, why not? If we can do it, we’ll do it.”
Initially, the AED was to be located in the Donkin legion, but during talks with the legion, the Cape Breton Housing Authority and the local Donkin-Gowrie school, it was decided the seniors complex would be more accessible to everyone, said Michael Janczyszyn, an AED registry co-ordinator with EHS.
“We want them out there in the most appropriate places that will be public and available for the longest amount of time,” he said. “This is a community AED, and everyone can be involved and know that it’s here when needed. Hopefully it is not needed.”
The AED was donated by EHS in recognition of the volunteer work done by paramedics in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality — Cape Breton paramedics volunteered 400 hours last year.
It will be secured in a box which is easily accessible and has an alarm installed which provides notice of tampering.
EHS has also launched the EHS AED map which shows the locations of defibrillators throughout the province, with 684 AEDs registered as of March 4. Registration for AED devices is voluntary by owners of the devices and the map can be found at
Medavie Health Services Group of Companies