Here’s good news for folks who feel squeamish about locking lips with a stranger to save a life.
“There’s been a move to hands only CPR within the last couple of years,” said Leon Baranowski, a Paramedic Practice leader with BC Emergency Health Services. “We found that some people were reluctant to do mouth to mouth, and the hands-on method which puts the focus on good chest compressions addresses that.”
Every minute can make a difference in the chance of survival, he noted. At the first sign of a cardiac arrest, people should call 911, begin CPR and use an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) if available. “If you’re the only person there, you should continue with CPR until help arrives.”
The PulsePoint Respond App, which has been available for a little more than a year, alerts people with the app on their phone if there is a possible victim of a cardiac arrest within 400 metres of their location anywhere in B.C. The alerts are triggered by 911 call-takers when someone is believed to be in sudden cardiac arrest, choking, fitting or not breathing. The app will also let users know if there is public access to an AED nearby.
“Anyone can be coached by the dispatcher on how to perform CPR until help arrives,” Baranowski said, emphasizing the importance of maintaining good hands-on CPR.
About 45,000 Canadians die each year of sudden cardiac arrest, Shawn McLaren, Chief or Learning for St. John Ambulance, said in a media release to kick off CPR month in November. Sudden cardiac arrest, which can happen to anyone, whatever their level of fitness, occurs when the heart function stops abruptly, causing the heart to no longer be able to pump blood to the rest of the body.
Nearly eight in 10 sudden cardiac arrests happen outside of a hospital setting. The only effective treatment in that event is CPR, paired with an electric shock from an AED. The combination of CPR and an electric shock from an AED improves the rate of survival by more than 75 per cent. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association notes that an AED applied within a minute of collapse raises the chance of survival to almost 90 per cent. That rate drops by seven to 10 per cent with each minute more.
“Getting trained is easy and inexpensive,” McLaren noted. “Whether you’re a teenager or an adult, you can learn the skills to save a life.”
St. John’s Ambulance will be offering special promotions on AEDs throughout November as part of the charitable organization’s efforts to increase awareness about the importance of CPR and AEDs. Proceeds from each sale will go toward funding to get more Canadians trained in CPR.
Visit sja.ca/cprmonth for more information.