Recently I attended the annual Heart & Stroke Foundation MLA Breakfast in Victoria and we were given a very stark reminder, that cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Tens of thousands of cardiac arrests happen each year in Canada and survival drops significantly for every minute without CPR or an AED.
Immediate response by performing hands-only CPR and using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can more than double the chance of survival.
In BC, over six years and with funding totalling $3M, 830 AEDs were placed through the public access to defibrillation program before the program ended.
I know first-hand what it’s like to have a loved one impacted by cardiac issues. My husband, Bill, had open heart surgery more than 6 years ago. We will be forever grateful for the phenomenal medical team at St. Paul’s and to Heart & Stroke for their ongoing efforts.
AEDs are simple to use and foolproof, although many people are hesitant to use one. Once you power on the device, you can follow the step-by-step voice directions. And most importantly, you can’t accidentally shock a person who does not need it. You can’t do harm – the AED reads the heart rhythm and only delivers a shock if needed. These are life-saving devices and I have heard many powerful stories about how they have saved lives of British Columbians.
Increasing the availability and use of AEDs in public locations is the most promising way to improve survival.
We need to look at a combination of education and having defibrillators more readily available. Critically important is a focus on public education to break down widely held yet incorrect assumptions about AEDs: that they can only be used by medical staff, that they can cause harm or that they are complicated to use. Ideally, an AED should be within three minutes of any site in a public space or workplace, be highly visible and accessible.
I encourage everyone to be ready, willing and able to respond to a cardiac emergency. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to act. That can be the difference between life and death.
If you see someone suddenly collapse, these are the 3 key and critical steps:
1. phone 9-1-1 and shout for an AED;
2. push hard and fast in the centre of the chest;
3. use an AED as soon as it arrives.
Don’t wait for someone else to step in—choose to act and you are giving that person their best chance of survival.
Thank you to the Heart and Stroke Foundation for the important work they do. You can support their ongoing efforts by participating in the upcoming “Big Bike Ride”. Why not consider volunteering to be a rider or you can make a donation. Team Bond will be riding again this year because we want to help raise funds and awareness. And as Heart and Stroke says “You’ll feel good, while doing good.”
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