Had it not been for an alert police officer and a portable life-saving machine, Constable Andrew Rosbrook would not be alive today.
While competing in last year’s GoodLife Fitness Toronto half-marathon, the 54 Division officer collapsed face down on Lakeshore Blvd W., near the 20-kilometre mark.
Detective Constable Laurie McCann, who was on a paid duty assignment at the event and didn’t know he was a police officer, performed CPR on Rosbrook along with other bystanders. Rosbrook had no pulse and was not breathing before paramedics arrived with a defibrillator donated to Toronto Emergency Medical Services by the MIKEY Network. The non-profit organization promotes heart-healthy lifestyles and provides automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in high-risk areas.
After spending three days in hospital recovering from a cardiac arrest, Rosbrook – who was clinically dead for seven minutes – was back running a month later.
To show his support for the MIKEY Network, Rosbrook will run from Ottawa to Toronto over a seven-day period, beginning on the anniversary of his cardiac arrest in early May, to raise funds for the network and increase awareness for the need to have widespread and publicly accessible AEDs throughout communities.
“A MIKEY defibrillator played a crucial role in my survival and recovery and my hope is that, one day, they will be commonplace in our society,” he said. “To help spread the message, I will run, walk, crawl or stumble 60 to 70 km a day to the finish line. The other reason why I am doing this is that I love running and I have always wanted to do a multi-day long-distance run.”
Rosbrook will start the 470-kilometre run on May 5 at Parliament Hill and finish on May 12 at Ontario Place.
“I have been running for 38 years and I do pretty high mileages every week,” said Rosbrook, who has been with the Service for 15 years. “To prepare for the May event, I have been doing a lot of 60-kilometre runs about two times a week to replicate how I am going to doing it on my mainly solo run. With the harsh winter weather we have had, I have had to do most of training on a treadmill. Most days during the week, I spend about one to two hours and then on at least two days, I run on the treadmill for seven to eight hours.”
A support vehicle will accompany Rosbrook during the one-week fundraising and awareness run. In addition, his 76-year-old father – Mike – an avid runner – will run about 20 kilometres daily with his son.
“A lot of people, including my work colleagues, have also asked if they can run with me, especially on the last day,” Rosbrook said.
A MIKEY defibrillator played a crucial role in my survival and recovery and my hope is that, one day, they will be commonplace in our society... To help spread the message, I will run, walk, crawl or stumble 60 to 70 km a day to the finish line.
On the last day, Rosbrook will cover the route of the GoodLife Toronto half-marathon that starts at Mel Lastman Square and ends at Ontario Place.
“The organizers have promised that, when I cross the finish line on May 12, they will present me with a medal for completing the event,” he said. “I didn’t complete the race last year, so it’s a nice little gesture from them.”
“Our goal is to make defibrillators as common and as readily available as fire extinguishers,” said MIKEY Network chairman and Heathwood Homes president Hugh Heron. “That someone like Andrew, a young impeccably fit runner, can suffer such a life-threatening cardiac event is precisely the reason why. This can happen to anyone at any time. We are thrilled that he’s here with us to embark on this run and to help spread this vital message.”
Established 11 years ago, The MIKEY Network is a registered charity aimed at creating public awareness and providing useful education surrounding heart healthy lifestyles.
MIKEY’s are portable, user-friendly electronic devices that automatically diagnose potentially life-threatening heart rhythms. If a problem is detected that may respond positively to an electric shock, a MIKEY delivers that shock to restore a normal heart rhythm.
The MIKEY Network honours the memory of Mike Salem, a partner in the Heathwood Homes and The Heron Group, who experienced sudden cardiac arrest and died on a golf course in 2012.