The Frank Cowan Foundation Donates to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario for Defibrillators

Cambridge, ON (July 17, 2007) — Today, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario the Ministry of Health Promotion and The Frank Cowan Foundation announced the donation of 1,000 AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) for Ontario communities made possible by a $3 million grant — the largest in North American history for AEDs — from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, complemented by the largest private sector gift of $1 million donation from The Frank Cowan Foundation, to the Heart & Stroke Restart a Heart, Restart a Life Campaign.

The Waterloo Region will receive funding for 50 AEDs and related training. These units will be installed in high-traffic public sites, selected in conjunction with local Emergency Services.

“Under the program, the Heart and Stroke Foundation with the Ontario Government and The Frank Cowan Foundation and other donors, are making possible the purchase, installation and associated training for 1,000 AEDs to be placed in communities across the province,” says Rocco Rossi, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. “With the help of individuals, community groups and corporate sponsors, like The Frank Cowan Foundation, one day AEDs will become as commonplace as fire extinguishers in Ontario, to save lives during cardiac arrest.”

At least 1,000 AEDs will be installed over the next 24 months in communities across Ontario. Funds are also being made available to allow eight to 10 trained personnel will be available at each AED location to assist someone who is having a cardiac arrest.

“This historic investment through the Heart and Stroke Foundation continues the McGuinty government’s support for life-saving AEDs,” said Jim Watson, Minister of Health Promotion. “The Ministry of Health Promotion will continue to work with great partners like the Heart and Stroke Foundation to find innovative ways to keep communities like Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo healthy and active.”

“The Frank Cowan Foundation is pleased to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario,” said Maureen Cowan, President, The Frank Cowan Foundation. “This initiative allows us to contribute to a great cause, and support the communities where many of our employees, clients and business partners live and work. As a result of this donation, more AEDs and training will be available to assist someone who is having a cardiac arrest.”

Ontario municipal Emergency Management Services or equivalent were asked to assess their local needs for defibrillators and apply to the Heart and Stroke Foundation for funds for AEDs and training in May, 2007. These local applications were reviewed and communities were allocated funds based on criteria including local need, response times, cardiac survival rates and local readiness to support a PAD (Public Access Defibrillator) program.

“Throughout the summer, we plan to announce AEDs to be installed in more than 50 communities across the province as a result of this application process,” says Rocco Rossi.

“This investment is great news for people in the Kitchener-Waterloo region because it provides important life-saving assistance for facilities where we all gather to lead more active and healthy lives,” said John Milloy, MPP for Kitchener Centre. “With access to this life-saving tool, public facilities right here in the Waterloo region will be safer and local families will know their loved ones are enjoying physical activity in a safer environment.”

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, in Ontario alone, approximately 6,500 cardiac arrests occur each year. The odds of survival for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are approximately five per cent. With each passing minute, the probability of survival declines by seven-to-10 percent.

“Because the odds are almost four times greater if someone performs CPR immediately, and when combined with early defibrillation, AEDs can increase cardiac arrest survival rates to 50 per cent or more if delivered in the first few minutes,” says John Prno, Director of the Region of Waterloo Emergency Medical Services. “We are very pleased with the potential of today’s announcement to save lives.”

The Foundation also acknowledges and thanks our partners who have assisted us in raising awareness of this grant program to place 1,000 AEDs in Ontario communities: Parks and Recreation Ontario, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Ontario Recreation Facilities Association and the Association of Municipal Emergency Medical Services of Ontario as well as the Ontario Trillium Foundation, for providing funding to be used to develop Public Access Defibrillator Programs and promote CPR in Northern and Rural Ontario.

The Chain of Survival, a protocol advocated by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, outlines the key ‘links’ that have to be connected in order for a victim of cardiac arrest to have the best chance for survival. The links in the chain include: Early Access (to emergency medical services by calling 9-1-1, Early CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), Early Defibrillation and Early Advanced Life Support (by medically trained paramedics or hospital staff). CPR keeps blood circulating through vital body tissues keeping organs alive, but it takes defibrillation with an AED to fully resuscitate someone in cardiac arrest. Most sudden cardiac arrest victims are in ventricular fibrillation, an electrical malfunction of the heart that causes the heart to twitch irregularly.

Automated External Cardiac Defibrillator (AED)

The odds of survival for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are approximately 5%. With each passing minute, the probability of survival declines by seven to 10%, according to the Foundation. In Ontario alone, approximately 6,500 cardiac arrests occur annually in out-of-hospital settings. Defibrillation can improve cardiac arrest survival rates by up to 50% if delivered in the first few minutes. In Northern Ontario, the death rate from cardiovascular disease is approximately 20% higher than the rest of the province.

The Frank Cowan Foundation

The Frank Cowan Foundation is a charitable foundation that exists because of the success of the Cowan family of companies, including Frank Cowan Company, Cowan Insurance Brokers, Cowan Benefits Consulting and Cowan Financial Solutions. Together they provide insurance and risk management products and services, and assist employers with their group benefits, retirement and health and disability management plans.