Lighthouse Cove gets jump on outdoor lifesaving device
Fish bait, beer and a jump start for your heart.
You can now get it all at the Lighthouse Cove Variety Store — the first place in Ontario with an outdoor defibrillator machine. A community-wide effort has made the small town perched on the edge of Essex County, where seven minutes can mean the difference between life and death, a trailblazer in the province.
“From the EMS standpoint ... it takes seven or eight minutes to get there and the person is just standing there beside their wife or husband,” said Larry Amlin, facilitator for the Public Access Defibrillation program.
“ANYBODY WHO HAS A CARDIAC ARREST, WE’D LIKE TO GIVE THEM A LITTLE BIT OF A FIGHTING CHANCE, BECAUSE WE’RE AN ISOLATED
“We could have all the fancy machines in the world but we can’t bring them back. We’ve lost them. If we do bring him back he’s a vegetable. This will help the community out a lot.”
Community members chose to put the life-saving device at the general store because it’s the town hub. There’s no town hall or community centre. All the streets are dead ends. There’s one road into the cove and one way out — past the general store.
The defibrillator, which can last for seven straight days at – 40 C without being affected, hangs on the exterior wall next to the entrance. It’s outside so people can access it 24 hours a day.
So far, 35 people in the community have been trained to use it, with more sessions coming up in the new year.
Lighthouse Cove has a couple of hundred permanent residents but the population surges in the summer with an influx of cottagers and boaters.
Jan Isaacs, who has lived in Lighthouse Cove for 13 years, spearheaded the program. She was concerned about paramedic response times for the small town wedged between two counties.
“We’re a community with no identity,” said Isaacs. “It creates a huge problem.
“Anybody who has a cardiac arrest, we’d like to give them a little bit of a fighting chance, because we’re an isolated community.”
She contacted Essex-Windsor EMS. It wasn’t hard to get them on board.
Amlin, also a retired EMS supervisor, said the response time to Lighthouse Cove can be about seven min- utes. Often, he said, that’s too long.
“It takes a longer time to get an ambulance out there because it’s right in the corner of the county,” said Amlin. “The whole thing with the PAD program is we want to get that brain oxygenated. We don’t care about the heart. We can fix the heart. But we can’t fix the brain. Once the brain is deprived of oxygen it dies, and so do we with it.”
Amlin said he’s seen citizens save lives with defibrillator machines in the past.
“A lot of times if they’re right on it, they defib him back and he’s talking by the time we get there,” said Amlin.
Isaacs said she just wants the same opportunity to do the same for her neighbours in the tight-knit community.
“ It’s going to give that person a chance until EMS arrives,” she said. “As a community we all work together, and we’ll all be working to help one another until EMS arrives. We just want to be a little bit more prepared and help to take care of our own.”