Gregg Lowe was a healthy 28-year-old when he finished Toronto’s Scotiabank Marathon in 2016 and suddenly collapsed.
“I had cardiac arrest,” Lowe says.
Now 32 and working as an actor, Lowe is thankful Toronto paramedics saw it happen and got to him right away.
“I needed the use of an external defibrillator, which basically saved my life — it brought me back.”
Healthcare professionals never determined exactly why it happened, so Lowe is still regularly tested at St. Michael’s Hospital and lives with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to monitor his heart.
“So if my heart stopped for any reason it would restart it,” he explains.
That experience inspired Lowe to get behind the GTA Heart Map Challenge — a big scavenger hunt that asks the public to help locate a large portion of Toronto’s estimated 20,000 automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and log them online to assist EMS workers.
What’s in it for the participants is cash — $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place and $2,000 for third place.
According to health researchers leading the campaign, only around 1,500 AEDs are registered and there are approximately 7,000 Ontarians every year who have sudden cardiac arrest.
Lowe says after his scary experience he has a whole new perspective on this piece of technology.
“Other than seeing them in movies or hospital dramas or things like that, it’s one of those things where you think, ‘Oh, they exist,’ but it’s separate from you,” he said.
“You never think you’re going to need something like that.”