At the end of a 20-year run, SCOPA purchases 14 AED's and enlists DDSB Health and Safety to help distribute them
Safe Communities of Pickering-Ajax (SCOPA) and the Durham District School Board (DDSB) have been community partners since SCOPA's inception in 1998. SCOPA was initiated by Jim McKinnon, who at the time, was working in Health and Safety at DuPont in Ajax.
|L-R: Gary Gibson (DDSB Health and Safety), Jim McKinnon (SCOPA), Cheryl Johnston (OPG and SCOPA), Ross Adams (Uxbridge Lawn Bowling Club), Athina Hatzes (DDSB Health and Safety), Donna Kennedy (Uxbridge Lawn Bowling Club), Phil Alexander (Uxbridge Fire Department), Rich Richmond (SCOPA), Dan Barnes (President of the York-Durham Heritage Railway), and Kim Wilkinson (Clinical Coordinator at Lakeridge Health Base Hospital) officially launch the distribution of 14 AED’s to the Durham community, at the Uxbridge Train Station.
SCOPA is a registered not-for-profit organization that develops health and safety initiatives for the Pickering and Ajax communities. Some examples of programs they helped to start include: Osteoporosis Prevention (seniors), Anti-Smoking Show (youths), and Passport to Safety (computer-based workplace safety training for young workers).
Last year, members received the news that SCOPA's run would be coming to an end. In a way, the organization is a victim of its own success. Now that many of the initiatives they started are automatically embedded in communities, the need for an external organization is no longer there.
At a SCOPA meeting half-way through last year the group discussed wrap-up plans, says Gary Gibson, Manager of Health and Safety for the DDSB and long-time member of SCOPA. "The main wrap-up idea was making sure that what we had left in the bank would do good things in the community," says Gibson.
SCOPA had approximately $20,000 to put towards a community initiative, so the team decided to purchase as many automated external defibrillators (AED's) as they could. "We partnered with Philips Canada who gave us an awesome deal on the AED's," explains McKinnon. SCOPA ended up purchasing 14 AED's to distribute throughout the Durham Region.
They also enlisted the help of Kim Wilkinson, Clinical Coordinator at Lakeridge Health Base Hospital, to collaborate with Athena Hatzes, Insurance and Risk Secretary for Health and Safety at the DDSB, to determine where the AED's would be placed.
The chosen locations include: Rotary Park Pool (Oshawa), Camp Samac Pool (Oshawa), Uxbridge Train Station, Uxbridge Lawn Bowling Club, Uxbridge Fire Hall, Pickering Soccer Club, Ajax Historic Quaker House, and others.
Wilkinson says that since the beginning of the Public Access Defibrillator program in 2001, there have been 40 AED uses, with 23 lives saved (57.5 per cent save rate) in Durham.
Tom Dallas was the first survivor of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) to be saved by an AED from this program.
On June 22, 2002 Dallas was revived at the Whitby Civic Recreation Complex after suffering an SCA. Luckily for him, an AED had been installed just two weeks prior. He was revived on-site in approximately four minutes, and with EMS arrival a few minutes later, Dallas made a full recovery. He says of the experience, "I am fortunate, grateful, and a living example of why AED's and pre-hospital care programs are critical. Cardiac arrest is not uncommon, and since 2002 many others have been saved and/or received emergency care thanks to the many dedicated people in the pre- and post-hospital care programs."
The AED's are being distributed throughout January, and on January 14 at the Uxbridge Train Station, McKinnon and the SCOPA team were presented with a plaque (crafted by Adam Campbell, a teacher at R.S. McLaughlin CVI in Oshawa) acknowledging their generous community donation.
McKinnon says he is sad to see SCOPA come to an end, but notes, "The good part about it is that this is what SCOPA is all about, ensuring safety within the community."