Life-saving automated external defibrillators installed in all residences

AEDs are now available in locations spread across campus, with the majority located in building lobbies to provide easy access to this life-saving technology.


Over the last few months, McMaster has made enhancements to on-campus safety with the installation of 28 new automated external defibrillators (AED) across campus.

These portable devices are to be used in instances of sudden cardiac arrest, a condition in which the heart suddenly stops beating.

Until recently, bystanders assisting a person in sudden cardiac arrest on campus would only be able to perform CPR until emergency responders arrive. With every minute of sudden cardiac arrest leading to a 10 per cent reduction in survival rates, seconds count and a shock can stop the clock.

AEDs have previously been available on campus but were only located in a few high user-risk locations and a unit carried by the McMaster Students Union Emergency First Response Team (EFRT). After the topic of AEDs came up during a Joint Health and Safety Committee meeting, Kevin Beatty, Director of Housing and Conference Services started to explore how to integrate this technology across the residence buildings which serve as home to 3800 students during the academic year and thousands of visitors during the summer conference season.

“Housing and Conference Services buildings currently comprise over 900,000 sq. ft. of McMaster’s campus footprint, with this number growing with the arrival of the Peter George Centre for Living and Learning in 2019,” said Beatty. “By installing AEDs, we have been able to quickly elevate the safety of our housing operation, and also have a significant impact on the entire campus’ safety including visitors and McMaster staff.”

Other interested departments such as Engineering, Athletics and Recreation and the Libraries joined in to update or group purchase the AEDs during this rapid expansion. HCS’ Residence Facilities then worked in alignment with McMaster Facilities Services to have the AEDs sourced and installed across campus.

“In approximately six months, we had multiple campus partners collaborate around this project, decide on a strategy and execute the plan,” said Joe Baumgartner, Manager HCS Residence Facilities. “Seeing the installation completed is a major win for safety in our McMaster community.”

AEDs are now available in locations spread across campus, with the majority located in building lobbies to provide easy access to this life-saving technology. Decals on entry doors indicate the presence of an AED in the building.

“The AEDs chosen for this project are very easy to operate, and give the user clear instructions during this high-stress situation,” said Dane De Man, EOHSS Health and Safety Specialist. The Phillips brand AEDs turn on with the press of a button, audibly instructs users through each step of how to shock the heart, and then guides the user to continue CPR until emergency help arrives.

The AEDs selected for this project also have a low-level of required maintenance and a four-year battery lifespan, which is essential when the hope is that it will be a long time before an AED is needed to save a life.

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