Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PM touts defibrillators in Canada's hockey rinks

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SASKATOON -- Robin Biggs was playing recreational hockey when halfway through the game, he skated over to the bench and lost consciousness.

Biggs was having a heart attack.

"My teammates noticed I was in distress and swung into action," Biggs said.

"The pressure pumps (from CPR) turned into punches, as I was not responding. One teammate jokingly commented later that 'It was great taking shots at you without you swinging back, but my hands were getting sore.' "

That was in November 2011 and Biggs, 59, says he's alive today because the rink had a heart defibrillator.

Biggs was on hand Thursday as Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood on the ice in the same Saskatoon rink where Biggs collapsed and announced the federal government is pushing ahead with a plan to put defibrillators in recreational hockey arenas across the country.

The Conservatives promised the $10-million initiative during the April 2011 election campaign.

Harper said the goal is to have 1,500 of the potentially life-saving machines in rinks that don't already have them. The government will also support training on the devices.

"Let me be clear, that means a defibrillator in every recreational hockey rink from coast to coast to coast," the prime minister said.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2013 A11

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