Grieving N.S. father wants location of life-saving devices made public
A Nova Scotia man whose son died following a cardiac arrest wants the location of life-saving defibrillators to be made public.
In Nova Scotia, 911 dispatchers can’t tell a caller where they can find the nearest automated external defibrillator – or AED – and David Fowlie says that needs to change.
Fowlie says his son, Michael, was the picture of health before he died in September 2014. He was just 28 years old when he went into cardiac arrest while cycling on Purcells Cove Road.
“It would be the most cruel, devastating event that anyone at all could experience, in losing their only child,” says Fowlie.
He has spent the last four years piecing together what happened after his son collapsed.
“I think most parents, if not all parents, would want to know what happened to their son or daughter during their last day of life,” says Fowlie. “After about five or six months I wanted to ask some questions, and that’s where the roadblocks started."
Fowlie has never given up trying to find the answers he’s been looking for, but over time, he has found gaps in the system he believes could have saved his son’s life.
“If I collapsed right now, I know they would not direct you to get the nearest AED,” he says.
Small signs supporting Fowlie’s plea have been popping up around the Halifax Regional Municipality. The signs state that “In N.S. – 911 & EHS will not tell you the location of nearest AED.”
Emergency Health Services admits that’s the case, but says it’s working to change that.
“People need to reach out to us and get those defibrillators registered,” says Jeff Fraser, director of Operations for EHS. “That’s really important because that’s really the foundation of this program.”
There are 540 devices registered in Nova Scotia, but EHS believes there are over 1,000 more in the province. Once more AEDs are registered, and the system is up and running, a dispatcher will be able to bring up a map and provide the locations of available devices within 1,200 feet of an incident to a caller
EHS doesn’t have a timeline as to when it will be complete, but they are encouraging anyone and any business with an AED to call and register the device.
Fowlie says, in his son’s case, there was one 700 metres away.
“I think that we’re not only lagging behind from the Department of Health and Emergency Health Services, but I think the citizens should be owed, or that information should be made available,” he says.
Fowlie says he wants to make sure someone else is given every possible chance to survive a cardiac arrest – a chance he believes his own son wasn’t given.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Brown