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Walmart Canada hesitant to install defibrillators in stores

A Saskatoon family questions why the world's largest retailer did have an AED in their stores after a man went into cardiac arrest in a Walmart store parking lot.

On March 20, John Tomchuk, 60, went into sudden cardiac arrest while loading groceries into his car at a Saskatoon Walmart parking lot. A bystander who went to assist the man entered the Walmart looking for an AED, but was told that the store did not have any defibrillators.

Tomchuk's life was saved as an AED was retrieved from a nearby Cabela's store.

"It's really frustrating to me because they have a large number of people who have disabilities to come and shop there," said Tomchuk's daughter in an interview.

No Walmart location in Canada has an emergency defibrillator on site. In a statement, Walmart Canada's Director of Corporate Affairs said that the retailer is "still in the process of evaluating the need and feasibility for our stores to maintain a defibrillator."

An AED is a small, portable device that assesses the heart of a person in cardiac arrest for a "shockable" rhythm. If such a rhythm is detected, a button is pressed to deliver a shock or series of shocks to the victim's heart, allowing it to return to a normal rhythm.

Walmart may be hesitant to install AEDs due to not wanting to take liability or it could be the belief that there are high costs associated in not only the installation of the devices but training associates as well. Many of these devices have been designed to be fool-proof, sometimes individuals with no training at all are able to use them effectively.

As a responsible business serving the public Walmart needs to form an AED policy and should bring AEDs to its stores. By not investing in technology that has been proven to save lives, Walmart is turning its back not only on customers who shop at the retail giant, but the associates who make the company profitable.