A ci­ti­zen’s CPR brigade?

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

The Bib­li­cal ques­tion, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” takes on a dif­fer­ent slant af­ter two re­cent guest opin­ion ar­ti­cles in The Guardian. The writ­ers noted the chances of sur­viv­ing a car­diac ar­rest on P.E.I. are poor. The odds are per­haps 10 per cent that peo­ple who suf­fer a full-blown car­diac ar­rest will sur­vive be­cause we are too de­pen­dent on the 911 am­bu­lance, firstre­spon­der sys­tem.

Some ju­ris­dic­tions in­clude not only am­bu­lances and fire de­part­ments as first re­spon­ders but off duty nurses, po­lice and other vol­un­teers who are linked to 911 dis­patches by smart­phone and so­cial me­dia. They can re­spond quickly to the scene of a nearby heart at­tack where each minute is crit­i­cal to sur­vival, es­pe­cially when it comes to restart­ing the heart with a de­fib­ril­la­tor (AED).

For ru­ral Is­lan­ders, a full-blown car­diac ar­rest is a death sen­tence since the av­er­age re­sponse time for an am­bu­lance is 22 min­utes.

In many cases, a neigh­bour, an anony­mous by­stander on the street or a fam­ily mem­ber are your best chances of sur­viv­ing a heart at­tack if they know ba­sic re­sus­ci­ta­tion tech­niques and an AED ar­rives within sev­eral min­utes to restart the heart.

We have to in­crease the num­bers of CPR­trained adults and im­prove no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tems. More de­fib­ril­la­tors are needed in mul­ti­ple pub­lic lo­ca­tions. Tar­geted CPR train­ing is es­sen­tial in ru­ral ar­eas of the prov­ince. Women’s In­sti­tute mem­bers, arena staffers, li­brar­i­ans, gas sta­tion at­ten­dants and store man­agers are all pos­si­ble mem­bers of a ci­ti­zen’s CPR brigade.

We need to have a direc­tory of where th­ese de­fib­ril­la­tors are lo­cated and make that in­for­ma­tion pub­lic. Not even 911 dis­patch­ers have a list of where AEDs are lo­cated.

Neigh­bours or by­standers are of­ten the keys to sur­viv­ing a car­diac ar­rest. We can’t just stand around and wait for an am­bu­lance to ar­rive. By then it’s usu­ally too late.

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