A citizen’s CPR brigade?
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.