Posted on: May 01, 2014
Posted by: Tejash Chauhan, Director – Risk and Asset Management, SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts
Like so many other major hotel operators, SilverBirch is in the business of providing a home away from home to thousands of people across Canada each year, and the safety of our guests and employees is of prime concern. As the head of risk management for the organization, I am always concerned with how best to achieve this goal, especially given the unique circumstances in which we operate: We have properties located in a number of different geographies and climates across the country, we cater to guests of all ages, languages and physical make-up, and we offer a wide variety of services including food, beverage, recreation, and most importantly a place to rest.
One risk management topic that is increasingly in the news is the use of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in public places.
AEDs are small, portable devices intended for use by lay members of the public to counteract the effects of heart attacks through the use of an electrical shock which allows the normal heart rhythm to regenerate. They are typically mounted in well-marked metal cabinets in highly-visible areas. There are an estimated 70,000 heart attacks each year in Canada – that’s one heart attack every 7 minutes. More alarming is the fact that almost 16,000 of these attacks result in death, most outside of hospital.
According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, any location that has 1,000 adults over the age of 35 present per day during normal business hours (7.5 hours/day, 5 days per week, 250 days per year) can expect one incident of sudden cardiac arrest every 5 years. These are scary statistics but they can be dramatically reduced. If CPR is performed immediately, and defibrillation initiated within 1-2 minutes, the survival rate can approach 70-80%!
In 2013, SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts formally adopted a practice to proceed with installation of AEDs at all of our properties. AED purchase and installation is now part of the development program for all major renovation projects and new-builds, and has been rolled out (on a non-mandatory basis) for all operating properties. Research shows that AEDs are most effectively used by trained individuals. However, AEDs are safe and easy to use by almost anyone. In fact, there are studies showing that laypersons can use AEDs safely and effectively and many examples of cases where individuals with no training have successfully used an AED in an emergency situation as they are very straightforward to use and self-guiding.
I would encourage you, in both your personal and work life, to learn more about AEDs, and familiarize yourself with the presence of these devices in locations such as hotels, offices, gyms, theatres, arenas, churches and other public areas. Knowing a little bit could help save a life!