Update: see previous post – TTC: Man Dies in Subway Station After Public Defibrillator Malfunctions
The TTC is an agency of the City of Toronto and is overseen by a Board.
The TTC Mandate:
The TTC serves the people of Toronto by ensuring your transit system is reliable, safe, and prepared for the future. To that end, the Board oversees matters of policy, planning TTC services; constructing, maintaining and operating the system; and expanding services and facilities.
A quick walk through the Museum Subway station will reveal numerous fire extinguishers in different areas in the station, both upstairs and downstairs on the subway platform.. A search for a defibrillator however, will only reveal one (1), directly across from the collector’s booth upstairs.
Fire extinguishers put fires out, while a defibrillator kickstarts or resets the heart’s rythmn when the heart stops.
The death of a passenger on November 8, 2013 should serve as a wake-up call for the TTC and Toronto City Hall. Another portable defibrillator located on Museum station’s subway platform may have saved a life.
The TTC is a massive transportation network, moving over a million people a day wtihin the subway network, within the City of Toronto. During rush hour, over 2000 passengers riding the subway, pass through the Museum subway station every five (5) minutes.
After I began to research this issue, I was able to speak to a TTC supervisor. I told him that I was disturbed that I could find several fire extinguishers on the Museum subway platform, but that I could only locate one portable defibrillator and that it was located upstairs across from the collector’s booth.
The supervisor was good enough to take the portable defibrillator out of its alarmed cabinet and show it to me. He also shared his thoughts with me after I informed him that it was my position that portable defibrillators should be stationed throughout the station, not only across from the collector’s booth.
He took the portable defibrillator out its housing and an alarm began to ring.
He should me the unit and pointed out that the battery was charged and that the paddles were still within their package and that the expiry date hadn’t yet expired for the paddles. He stated that the defibrillator used on November 8, 2013 had been removed and it was replaced with a spare, labelled “Spare #2” defibrillator.
He said that the charge is checked at least once a month to ensure that the battery is charged, in the event that the defibrillator is needed to be used in an emergency. He said that he was trained to use it about four and half years ago, but hasn’t received any refresher training since.
I told him that I was concerned that the only place a portable defibrillator was located in all of the subway stations, was upstairs, opposite the collector’s booth. The TTC has already announced that it was their plan to eventually eliminate the collector’s out of the collector’s booth and to automate them. If this was the case, their close promixity to the collector’s booth would delay any attention to an individual suffering from a heart condition, that the portable defibrillator was invented to help.
I recommended to him that the portable defibrillators should be downstairs on the subway platform, as well as upstairs and accessible to everyone, not just upstairs, accessible to the TTC collector to retrieve.
He informed me that the TTC had two (2) paramedics working within it everyday and that they carried their own portable defibrillator. He recommended that many more should be hired and should be scattered appropriately within the system and that this move would be much more for the safety of passengers. These two paramedics carry portable defibrillators with them.
It is difficult to imagine that there are only two (2) paramedics assigned to a transit system that carrys on it, over a million passengers everyday. More paramedics present within the public transit system everyday would make the TTC safer for passengers.
To ensure that the transit system is safe and prepared for the future, the following recommendations should be seriously reviewed and considered by the TTC Board and the City of Toronto, before they are implemented:
1. The TTC should put on a public awareness campaign regarding portable defibrillators in each station and offer to train all TTC staff and passengers in the use of these AED units.
2. Additional portable defibrillators should be placed in several strategic places throughout the subway system, including, but not limited to:
- within all subway stations at the subway platform level, as well as busing stations; the larger the station, the more defibrillators should be utilized
- inside subways on all lines
3. In addition to additional defibrillators being utilized, more paramedics should be utilized on the transit system, everyday of every month.
4. TTC staff should have inclass Certified CPR & AED refresher courses every six (6) months after they have had their initial full training on both.
Hopefully the City of Toronto will not use the TTC as a political football and will instead realize the significance of these recommendations, given that ridership grows every year and that the age of the average rider is increasing, with more and more seniors riding the TTC every year.