When Heathwood Homes partner Michael Salem suffered a fatal heart attack on a golf course in 2002, his colleagues wanted to honour the man known for his warmth, generosity and good humour.
Heathwood and its parent company, Herity, established The Mikey Network in 2003 to promote heart-healthy living and to place Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) dubbed ‘Mikeys’ in as many public places as possible. The portable electronic devices diagnose potentially life-threatening irregular heart rhythms and send an electric shock to restore a person’s normal heart rhythm if needed. The AEDs provide simple instructions and are easy for anyone to use, even if they have no medical training.
The Network has placed more than 2,000 Mikeys in schools, libraries, malls, community centres, on GO Trains, moving trucks and more. Mikeys are found across Ontario, in several other provinces and in a few international locations. Mikeys have saved 34 lives, including seven children.
Time is of the essence during a heart event, as about 10 per cent of brain function is lost for every minute the brain is deprived of oxygen, and it can take several minutes for Emergency Medical Services to arrive, says Eva Naumovski, president of The Mikey Network and vice president of marketing for Heathwood Homes.
Hugh Heron, president of Heathwood Homes, was a close friend of Salem’s and is a passionate advocate for the Mikey Network. Heron says a current goal is to place Mikeys in each of Peel Region’s 250-plus public schools.
It’s part of the Mikey Young at Heart program that also offers high school students the opportunity to earn volunteer hours by teaching CPR and AED operation through the Mikey Young at Heart app.
“We’ve got hundreds of students using the app,” says Naumovski. “They can earn three and a half volunteer hours by watching the videos and passing each level on the app, then repeat the program a second year. Our goal is to educate and save more lives.”
A second app has been recently introduced that’s geared to anyone who wants to take the CPR/AED training.
“This is for people who have a family member with a heart condition, for offices, for small businesses or groups that don’t have the finances to provide training otherwise,” says Naumovski. “Or for anyone who is interested in learning about life-saving skills.”
She says the big misconception is that Mikeys are used for senior citizens, but the youngest life saved by one of the devices was three months old. Mikey’s Kids also provides AEDs to families whose children are in danger of sudden cardiac arrest.
The Mikey Network is a private charity and funds are raised through events such as the Walk of Life each May, through donations from Heathwood trades and suppliers, and from the public.
To learn more about The Mikey Network, make a donation or apply for a Mikey, visit: mikeynetwork.com
The website and the Mikey Network’s Facebook page also carries a wealth of useful information and tips about heart healthy living.