A life-sav­ing ini­tia­tive

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier Stanstead

Ac­cord­ing to the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion, one car­diac ar­rest, or heart at­tack, oc­curs ev­ery twelve min­utes in Canada. With­out im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion, most of those heart at­tacks will re­sult in death.

Those are some of the star­tling facts that mo­ti­vated Am­bu­lance Stanstead, back in July of 2010, to launch its Pub­lic Ac­cess De­fib­ril­la­tor Pro­gram, a model pub­lic safety pro­gram that is unique in the re­gion. Since that time, twelve Au­to­mated Ex­ter­nal De­fib­ril­la­tors (AEDs), small, por­ta­ble de­vices that can give a shock to the heart, have been placed in pub­lic lo­ca­tions in Stanstead and neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, and dozens of cit­i­zens have been trained in their use.

“Once an or­ga­niza

tion, like the Caisse

de Stanstead or the Pharmaprix Phar­macy, buys a de­fib­ril­la­tor, then we pro­vide, for free, the train­ing to their em­ploy­ees, we pro­vide the bat­ter­ies, the metal­lic box that pro­tects the AED, and the pads that have a one-time use. We en­sure the up­keep of the ma­chines so that when peo­ple buy the ma­chine, there is no fur­ther cost to them,” ex­plained Justin Dewey, a para­medic with Am­bu­lance Stanstead. The cost of an AED is $1,845, while the added equip­ment, the bat­tery, metal­lic box and pads to­tal roughly $500; a sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment for Am­bu­lance Stanstead.

The AEDs, as men­tioned ear­lier, will give a shock to a pa­tient whose heart is ‘fib­ril­lat­ing’, a con­di­tion that is life-threat­en­ing and most of­ten present dur­ing a heart at­tack. The shock usu­ally re­turns the heart to a more nor­mal rhythm. If the ma­chine doesn’t de­tect a ‘shock­able rhythm’, then it doesn’t give the shock but will, in­stead, in­struct the user to per­form car­diopul­monary re­sus­ci­ta­tion (CPR). Al­though these ma­chines are in­cred­i­bly sim­ple to use (a voice tells you ex­actly what to do) and have been used suc­cess­fully to save lives by peo­ple with­out any train­ing what­so­ever, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Dewey, “it’s bet­ter to have the train­ing.”

The use of an AED on a pa­tient in the first few min­utes fol­low­ing car­diac ar­rest can boost the like­li­hood of sur­vival by 75% or more. “For ev­ery minute that passes with­out de­fib­ril­la­tion, fol­low­ing a car­diac ar­rest, the chance of sur­vival de­creases by ten per cent.”

Mr. Dewey fur­ther ex­plained what some­one in car­diac ar­rest looks like: “They could be un­con­scious, not breath­ing, with signs of poor cir­cu­la­tion like gray­ish skin and a blue-pur­plish colour around the mouth. Or just breath­ing one or two gasps a minute. Then it’s time to start CPR. What’s good about this ma­chine is that it won’t give a shock if the pa­tient’s heart doesn’t need it. They’re in­tel­li­gent ma­chines that make all the tough de­ci­sions for you. You can’t hurt any­one by us­ing the ma­chine – you can only hurt some­one if you don’t.”

Am­bu­lance Stanstead has trained groups of em­ploy­ees at pub­lic or­ga­ni­za­tions where AEDs are lo­cated and sev­eral groups of in­di­vid­u­als at the CAB RH Rediker. “The reg­u­lar train­ing ses­sions last four hours and we have also done 30-minute train­ing ses­sions at pub­lic events like BorderFest and Town­ship­pers’ Day. Quebec is the only prov­ince in Canada that doesn’t re­quire high school students to have CPR train­ing, but the more peo­ple who know, the bet­ter. What re­ally makes the dif­fer­ence when some­one has a heart at­tack is what the peo­ple around them can do. We know that now,” said the para­medic.

Peo­ple who would like to take a CPR course with Am­bu­lance Stanstead, which be­sides learn­ing CPR in­cludes learn­ing how to use an AED and how to stop some­one from chok­ing, can leave their name with Lynn Wood at the CAB RH Rediker; when enough names are on the list Am­bu­lance Stanstead will do the course. “So far we’ve trained mostly se­niors at the CAB. But there is re­ally a need for all gen­er­a­tions to be trained. Sud­den car­diac ar­rest is ac­tu­ally more com­mon in the 40 to 65 year age group but these peo­ple don’t see them­selves as at risk so they’re not pre­pared.”

Any­one who has seen how en­thu­si­as­tic Mr. Dewey is when do­ing community outreach for Am­bu­lance Stanstead might be sur­prised to learn how Justin ended up choos­ing a ca­reer as a para­medic. “Af­ter I grad­u­ated from high school I went to Cegep and was in dif­fer­ent pro­grams, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was work­ing at the gas sta­tion when a guy who had been with Am­bu­lance Stanstead for a long time asked me if I’d thought of be­ing a para­medic and told me about the job. I had al­ways been in­ter­ested in the med­i­cal field so I thought, why not?” com­mented Justin who re­ceived his para­medic train­ing at Ahuntsic Cegep, in Montreal.

An ear­lier in­ci­dent in Justin’s life may also have played a role in his ca­reer choice. “When I was in el­e­men­tary school a friend of mine started chok­ing on a mar­ble. Then the teacher did the Heim­lich ma­neu­ver on him and saved his life. It was re­ally cool!”

The Au­to­matic Ex­ter­nal De­fib­ril­la­tors (AEDs) in the Stanstead re­gion, which are ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic, are in the fol­low­ing lo­ca­tions: avail­able 24 hours a day at the Caisse Des­jardins de Stanstead on Fair­fax and in the Beebe sec­tor, and at the Og­den Town Hall from June to Septem­ber; avail­able dur­ing open­ing hours at the Pat Burns Arena, Pharmaprix Phar­macy, Stanstead Town Hall, Manoir Stanstead, the Curl­ing Club in Beebe, the Duf­ferin Heights Golf Club in Stanstead East, Marché Goudreau in Stanstead Town­ship, Fitch Bay Fire Sta­tion, Ge­orgeville Fire Sta­tion, Og­den Town Hall, the Mail boxes Cor­ner at Copp’s Square in Ge­orgeville, and the Mur­ray Memo­rial Hall, in Ge­orgeville.

If you’d like in­for­ma­tion about pur­chas­ing an AED call Justin Dewey at 819 876-2759.

Para­medic Justin Dewey, of Am­bu­lance Stanstead, is hop­ing more peo­ple will learn how to use Au­to­matic Ex­ter­nal De­fib­ril­la­tors, like this one sta­tioned at the Proxim Phar­macy, in Stanstead.

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