By: Joseph Cacciotti

That’s according to Mike Benkie, co-ordinator of occupational health for Safety and Security Services.

Until recently Algonquin had 12 defibrillators, on Thursday this number increased to 16.

“I was surprised to discover that according to the City of Ottawa paramedic service we have more defibrillators than Carleton University, and The University of Ottawa combined,” said Benkie.

This is thanks to a program known as Public Access Defibrillator oversight program (PAD) which is run in co-operation with the City of Ottawa paramedic service.

As a part of this program, field paramedics regularly inspect the college, to ensure equipment is accessible and well maintained, as well as helping the college to provide first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training for all staff.

The investment has paid off. On Wednesday Nov. 7 a 20-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest around 7:25 p.m. while in the college athletics dome. This is the only heart-related incident on record to have occurred on campus since the start of the fall semester.

For any emergencies on campus Algonquin staff and students are required to immediately inform security services by calling the emergency 5000 number, as security can always respond more quickly than traditional city-wide response teams.

The heart-attack in the athletics dome was not witnessed by anyone from Algonquin as the space was being rented. There was a Students’ Association representative present at the entrance prepared to respond to emergencies like this one, however no one informed them in time to contact security before a witness on the scene had contacted 911. As a result the fire department arrived on scene before security.

“This is a testament to the response time of Ottawa’s fire department,” said Beauregard.

Benkie hopes the incident raised awareness across the college to the importance of informing security immediately in every case of emergency.

“The first thing to do is call 5000 and alert Security to the emergency. Security will send immediate response and ensure 911 emergency services are called and are on route,” said Benkie.

When they first start working at the College, all faculty and staff are required to participate in a College orientation session which has a dedicated section to Safety, Security and Emergency management. These courses discuss the college policies and processes and advise staff of the extensive training that Safety and Security Services makes available to all staff. In particular, is the First Aid/CPR training which is made available at varying times throughout the school semester to accommodate staff schedules. The training is completely covered by the Safety and Security Services to encourage not only one time training, but to ensure everyone at Algonquin is able to provide the safest working and learning environment, and can respond effectively to all emergencies.

“When staffs call the emergency 5000 number, Security is trained to ask questions so they can ascertain as much information as possible so they may arrive on scene properly prepared,” said Benkie. “They have a dedicated defibrillator on hand at all times and will respond with it if the situation calls for it.”

When there is a Safety and Security risk to staff and students, they should call extension 5000 which is the emergency line of the college. Much like 911, every call is treated very seriously. Benkie says, “Please provide your exact location, Security is immediately aware of the location of the phone you use, however the incident may have occurred in an alternative location and the following emergency phone was the closest phone.”

The phones are clearly labelled and are large yellow boxes with a red button that says push, the word emergency is in capitals on the front of the unit, and they are dispersed throughout the buildings and parking lots across the College.

Megan Beauregard, a graduate of the pre-service firefighter education and training program, and fitness and health promotion is proud of Algo­­­nquin.

“It’s a great thing for the college, bad for the universities; but that’s why people should come to Algonquin,” she said.