Veteran paramedic encourages AED accessibility on golf course

When it comes to cardiac arrest situations, time is a crucial factor in rates of survival. A long-time Saskatchewan paramedic is passing along that message to golf course administrators hoping to spread the word of importance regarding Automated External Defibrillators (AED) and the machine’s accessibility.

AED’s were introduced approximately 30 years ago, but like most technology the machines have become more affordable, mobile, and available. Around a decade ago the Heart and Stroke Foundation provided a grant for any community with an arena to purchase an AED. In today’s world the defibrillators are available at airports, shopping malls, stores, schools, and other facilities. Mark Ollinger distributes AED’s and provides training to people on how to use the lifesaving tool. He said when it comes to cardiac cases, time is crucial.

“The first 10 minutes, in order to give the person the best chance of survival, if their heart is in a rhythm that will respond to a shock they need early chest compressions or CPR, or early use of an AED for a chance to be resuscitated,” he explained.

Ollinger said when cardiac arrest situations reach the 10-minute point without assistance the chance of survival is minimal. For every minute that passes, the chances of survival drop 10 percent. Those stats are why Ollinger is encouraging golf courses to have an AED available whether it’s on the beverage cart, the marshal cart, or at the clubhouse. Ollinger also wanted to dispel any myths about who can suffer a heart attack or stroke.

“Cardiac arrest is not age specific,” he said. “It could happen to anybody, without the device and someone trained in CPR that person’s chance is really diminished significantly.”

Golf Saskatchewan put a poll on their Twitter account (@GOLFSK) asking if members courses had an AED on site. As of 12 p.m. on Wednesday, 63 people responded with 59 percent saying yes. 11 percent of respondents said no. A quarter of the voters said they weren’t aware if their club had one while another five percent admitted their club should. Ollinger agreed.

“I’ve seen the improvements that have been made over the last three decades and how much these devices can impact a community and a family,” Ollinger said.

Under the Golf Saskatchewan MAP grant formula, AED’s are an item that would fall under funding. If any course administrator would like more information they can contact Candace Dunham at 306.975.0850 or email at Golf Saskatchewan has also purchased an AED that will be on hand at all championships and other events. Executive Director Brian Lee said having a defibrillator on site is a must.

“Safety is the number one importance for our members, competitors, volunteers, and staff,” Lee said. “We have upwards of 100 people on the course at any given time and the purchase of the AED and trained staff ensures we are ready if or when an incident occurs. The time saved before lifesaving experts arrive could be the difference in saving a life.”

If your club is looking to purchase an AED or wants more information, Ollinger can be reached at 306.862.1308 or you can visit his website.