In 2012, Loran Demone was attending a fundraiser at the Cornwall & District Fire Department hall when he collapsed.
"I remember going faint and that was it. I came to when we were going down the road in the ambulance. The people that worked on me know more about what happened then I do," Demone said. "I am thankful for them that they were able to help me."
Firemen saved Demone's life through the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can potentially stop an irregular heartbeat and allow a normal rhythm to resume following cardiac arrest.
Demone was among the crowd at the fire hall April 23, when the Cornwall & District Fire Department received a new AED after winning the second annual Chris Cares AED Giveaway contest, sponsored by Chris Brothers/Bonté. They were presented the device at a public event at the firehouse April 23. The AED will remain at the hall and is available for use by the public.
Fire Chief Michael Wilson called the AED a great addition, noting that the department's emergency vehicles are already equipped with their own devices.
"The worst-case scenario is that we have a function at the hall and we had to go on a medical emergency. Now there will be a device here in case it is needed," he said. "We've used the AEDs that we have many times, including at a public event there at the hall. To be chosen out of entries from across Atlantic Canada is quite something."
Among the features that make AEDs so valuable is that they are portable, lightweight, and easy to use by anyone, making them a key tool in lifesaving situations.
Wilson said it was a surprise when he heard that they won the contest. The department had been in the process of getting one for the hall, but then was told that one was on its way by the department's auxiliary secretary, Bonnie Yates.
The Facebook contest, which Yates entered, required organizations to say why they were worthy of winning the prize.
"I gave a brief history of the department, saying that we are small, but hard working in an aging community and that this would be very helpful to have on hand when we hold events," Wilson recalled.
The fire department includes about 30 members and 10 members of the auxiliary. Their designated area of responding to calls is contained to about a 15-minute drive in any direction.
Greg Connell, owner of Nurture Atlantic, the marketing firm for Chris Brothers/Bonté, organized the event and said this was the second annual AED give-away that takes place every year during heart month.
Connell said that this is an important cause for the company and the idea was sparked when one of their employees, Bill Wiseman who was on hand for the event in Cornwall, suffered a heart attack while playing hockey. He was saved thanks to quick thinking friends who used an AED on him.
It was this experience that inspired Chris Brothers/Bonté to install an AED in their company. They used it just 18 months later when Paul Sivret suffered a heart attack at work.
Wiseman and Sivret are now the ones that have been tasked to choose the winners of the AED each year.
"The whole idea of this contest is to create awareness of AEDs in Atlantic Canadian businesses and communities," said Connell. "This isn't about the company, it's about getting the word out about the importance of AEDs in your community, in Atlantic Canada and around the world for that matter."
He said that Yate's submission letter was short but meaningful, which is why the Cornwall Fire Department was chosen.
The contest runs from Valentine's Day to the end of February each year and anyone can enter the contest by going to the Chris Brothers website or through Facebook. Total cost of the AED, plus training for 12 people add up to about $3,500.
Along with the AED contest, Chris Brothers/Bonté also support the Ray of Hope Soup Kitchen in Moncton, New Brunswick.
For his part, Demone said: "It is great to have you coming forth with this new-fangled stuff for us and I'm sure it will be put to good use."