Ottawa woman urges fitness centres to install defibrillators
An Ottawa woman who went into full cardiac arrest at a Goodlife Fitness centre last month is raising questions about why the facility was not equipped with a defibrillator and no staff was available to initiate CPR.
Heidi Bonnell, 36, says she's only alive today because another woman working out at the facility acted quickly.
Bonnell -- who is a well-known Ottawa lobbyist and worked as an aide to former Liberal cabinet minister Brian Tobin -- said she was riding a stationary bike at the Ottawa-Vanier Goodlife club when she went into full cardiac arrest.
"The staff were unable or unprepared to assist me. They helped me get off the bike while this other woman found a nurse in an exercise class down the way who seemed to be the only one on site with any sort of CPR or medical training," said Bonnell.
By the time paramedics arrived, Bonnell still did not have a pulse and needed to be shocked with a defibrillator.
After spending three weeks in hospital -- five of those days on ice, Bonnell was able to return home on Nov. 28.
Now, Bonnell wants other Goodlife members to hear her story: "When you think of gyms, Goodlife comes to mind and thousands of members across the city and all of whom should be concerned because it can happen to you."
Goodlife Fitness said privacy issues prevent the company from discussing the case.
However, the company told CTV Ottawa in an email that first aid and CPR are requirements for Goodlife staff.
"Our staff are required to be First Aid and CPR trained and the staff at our Ottawa Vanier Club are First Aid and CPR trained," wrote public relations manager Krista Maling.
"We also have emergency response plans in place at each of our clubs and staff are trained to follow these procedures."
She added that discussions are underway about installing defibrillators at Goodlife clubs.
Although defibrillators aren't mandatory at private fitness centres, they are becoming more common. For example, Curves has a defibrillator at each of its three Ottawa centres.
"It's a small investment in terms of dollars, but peace of mind knowing it's there if we ever had to use it. I don't understand why anyone wouldn't have it," said Curves employee Sue Ironside.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr