CHBA past president Bob Finnigan proud of 36 lives saved through The Mikey Network

Bob Finnigan, CHBA past president 2016, speaks proudly and from the heart about the network of defibrillators founded by Herity/Heathwood Homes, where he is a principal. In 2002, Finnigan’s home builder/developer company based in Toronto, Ontario started The Mikey Network to place portable defibrillators in public spaces. Today, The Mikey Network has distributed roughly 2,200 easy-to-use units to Canadians coast-to-coast.

The initiative launched after Mike Salem, marketing vice president and beloved colleague, died suddenly of a cardiac arrest while playing golf. He was only 56.

Determined to make a difference in Canadians’ lives, The Mikey Network educates Canadians about heart healthy lifestyles and distributes Mikeys to public spaces and children at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Construction sites, arenas, golf courses, apartment buildings, and shopping centres are among some of the locations which have a Mikey. The registered charity is just one example of the contribution Canadian builders so often make to their communities.

Being proactive about health and safety with The Mikey Network

Emergencies can happen anywhere. Bob Finnigan wants the home building industry to be as proactive as possible, both on sites and within the communities in which they operate. He believes defibrillators should be on every residential construction site. It can be difficult often for emergency services to get to a job site and find the person in need within a reasonable time frame that would allow for a chance of survival, says Finnigan.

“On a busy construction site full of hardworking people, it’s important to keep them safe. High-rise builders should have defibrillator stations on every third or fourth floor,” Finnigan says.

“It’s a tangible asset that gives you a chance to survive if you’re in cardiac arrest. There are 2,200 places in Canada that are a whole lot safer than they would be without one.”

Saving lives, one defibrillator at a time

Mikey Network Defibrillators
A Mikey, a portable defibrillator.

The Mikey Network donates units to families as children are also at risk. Roughly 237 children in Ontario carry a Mikey with them today, according to Herity/Heathwood president Hugh Heron.

Few people realize how many lives have been saved by Mikeys, including that of Archer Hackett from Renfrew, Ontario. The three-month-old was the youngest person saved by one of the portable defibrillators.

In January 2015 Archer, who suffers from an abnormal heart rhythm, was on his way the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa when he went into cardiac arrest. Thankfully, his parents had a Mikey with them, and were able to pull over on the side of the road and re-start his heart.

Archer was one of eight lives saved in 2015, the highest number in one year since the program launched.

A letter from Archer’s parents reads, “…we cannot express how grateful we are … Archer wouldn’t have survived without your help. We’re so thankful to have him home.”

Morty Henkle, executive director of The Mikey Network, says saving Archer’s life was a big moment for The Mikey Network.

“I was amazed we were so lucky to have a Mikey with a family that was able to save this child’s life,” Henkle says. “Every save is a big save. We’ve had teenagers, we’ve had young children, a person in their 70s, but when you can actually save a child that’s just coming into the world, it’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

Heron admitted he got emotional when he heard Archer’s story.

“A three-month old baby. Just imagine. There were tears in my eyes – for a child to be given a second chance is fantastic,” he says.

The Mikey Network Team at The Walk of Life

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The original version of this post was published by Andrew Pariser here.