February 25th, 2005

Two paramedics demonstrate the Lifeline defibrillator Thursday at Memorial Gardens. Photo by Phil Novak,

Peter Chirico knows the heartbreak heart attacks can cause.

Chirico's father Dr. Frank Chirico died of a heart attack at 42 almost 40 years ago, leaving his 39-year-old wife to care for 12 children.

That's the reason Chirico didn't think twice about becoming the champion of a new fundraising program aimed at purchasing eight portable defibrillators for the Nipissing area.

"With that family history and the request from them to bring me on board for this, it was a natural fit and I was more than happy to jump on board for this one," Chirico said Thursday at the program's launch.

Weekend warriors
The goal is to raise enough money to buy eight of the Lifeline machines, which will likely be placed in high traffic areas.

"Places where the public will be and the chances of heart attack higher," Chirico said.

"We're all weekend warriors, with hockey, etcetera, baseball, so we want these units around because those activities unfortunately do lead to heart attacks."

First 10 minutes
The area's Emergency Medical Service is the spark behind the program, Chirico said, adding the defibrillators will save lives.

"The first 10 minutes of a heart attack are critical and they say the chances of survival within that 10 minutes decrease by 10 per cent every minute so it's very important for people to know that these things are here," Chirico said.

Children's toy
Operating the units is simple, Chirico said.

"It looks like a children's toy and it operates like a children's toy, it's basically idiot proof," Chirico said.

"If I an operate one anyone can operate one."

The unit displayed Thursday at Memorial Gardens was purchased by Canadian Career College, Chirico said.

As well the Kinsmen Club of North Bay has donated $10,000, and the owners of the local Tim Horton's stores have pledged to purchase the next unit.

An impact
The Lifeline's effectiveness was evident several years ago when a golfer at the Highview Golf Course, in Powassan, had a heart attack and lived because a defibrillator owned by the course was used on him.

"This is going to save lives in our community," Chirico said.

"This is going to have an impact."