“Sudden cardiac arrest and stroke can happen to anyone, at any time,” said Penticton MLA Dan Ashton. “It is great news that this workshop will provide local seniors with the training and information they need to potentially save the life of a loved one, friend or neighbour.”
This second annual workshop is supported by the District of Peachland and the Justice Institute of BC.
“The first workshop was so well-received by the participants as well as the instructors and we’re pleased to offer it again,” said course facilitator and BCEHS Okanagan South District Manager Anne Benn. “Not only are the seniors learning what to do if a loved one has a heart attack or stroke, but paramedic students and first responders also have the chance to practice providing patient care.”
What makes this workshop unique is that paramedic students and first responders work in small, breakout groups with seniors to show how to give CPR, and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). All participants are encouraged to share their stories and questions throughout the workshop. In addition, course instructors run through scenarios of what it’s like to call 9-1-1 to help illustrate how the 9-1-1 triage system operates and what types of questions are asked of callers.
“As we get older, there is a fear that our loved ones may have a heart attack or stroke and with that comes insecurity about what to do,” said Peachland senior Doris Muhs, who took the course last year. “After taking this workshop I feel better prepared to handle a medical emergency. I now have the courage to call 9-1-1 and not just wait. The instruction during this workshop was fantastic because the information was presented slowly and repeated throughout, which is very important for us seniors. We all went home with more confidence about what to do in case of a heart attack or a stroke.”
In 2015, BCEHS responded to 3,565 suspected cardiac arrests throughout the province. Without immediate help, a victim of sudden cardiac arrest will suffer brain damage within three minutes. Evidence shows that when CPR and AEDs are used together in the first few minutes during a sudden cardiac arrest, survival rates can be doubled.
“Our role is not just to help save lives in an emergency, it’s also to help prepare as many people as possible in our communities for medical emergencies,” said Benn. “This workshop is a perfect example of how we can help educate our neighbours on what to do to in a medical emergency, and perhaps save a life.”
This workshop supports the goals of the BC Public Access to Defibrillation Program, a partnership between the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the provincial government. The program supports the installation of 750 AEDs in public venues, such as community centres, arenas, recreation centres, playing fields and parks, throughout B.C. over the next few years.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is responsible for the delivery and governance of pre-hospital emergency medical care and inter-facility patient transfer services through the BC Ambulance Service and the BC Patient Transfer Network. BCEHS is supported by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA).