The very second a sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the clock is ticking: one minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes.
Every minute that goes by without a shock, the chance of survival drops by 10 percent. After 10 minutes, the chances are almost zero. Ideally, should cardiac arrest occur, CPR would be administered and an AED used on someone in under four minutes.
This is a scary stat that most people don’t realize, says Deb Hennig, who owns Action First Aid with her husband Roger. The four-minute mark is important because this is when brain damage begins to set in.
Studies show that survival rates can increase up to 75 percent with good CPR and the immediate use of an AED. The AED stops the heart from quivering, so it can reset and start working again.
AEDs are extremely simple to use: you just turn it on and listen to the machine’s commands. They are designed to be safe for anyone to use, and the device will only deliver a shock if needed, explains Deb.
“Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical issue that can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere,” she says. “This does not just happen to old people, and it is not always related to a clogged artery like many people think. We have all heard about the young hockey player or child in a school who suddenly collapses. Having immediate access to an AED is vital to saving a life.”
Cardiac Safe Communities
Just like in the days of the Block Parent, groups of people are coming together to think about safety and the importance of protecting one another.
“We are working with individual cottage owners, cottage associations, road associations, marinas, and other groups to help strategically place AEDs everywhere,” says Deb.
She recommends working with a four-minute radius and having the knowledge of where the closest AED to your home or cottage is located. It’s important to recognize whether the AED can be picked up and brought back to your property in under four minutes.
“If this is not possible, it’s time to bring your neighbours together and come up with an action plan to address the situation,” says Deb.
Education is key
Whether an AED is placed in a home or a community, the Action First Aid team will help launch a public awareness campaign so that the greatest number of people know where their closest AED is and how to use it.
Deb says they put a strong focus on education to ensure their customers have the knowledge and confidence to take action should an emergency occur.
It’s also why Deb, a former teacher, developed the Shock on the Dock workshop.
“We have had so much fun bringing groups of people together for a couple of hours, on a dock, playing ‘Staying Alive’ and teaching everyone how to save a life,” she says. “We bring an instructor and our equipment to you so that you don’t have to give up a weekend to learn CPR.”
Even though AEDs are easy to use, the situation is never easy when you are faced with something this serious. Knowing what to do is critical.
Outdoor SaveStations Action First Aid is leading the way in helping place AEDs outside too. Technology now exists to keep the devices warm in the winter and cool in the summer so that high traffic areas can have 24/7 access to one.
Corporate sponsors, real estate agents and community groups are joining forces to help sponsor and place lifesaving equipment in key locations, explains Deb.
For more than 20 years, Action First Aid has been a proud national distributor of Philips AEDs.
“They have designed an AED specific for home use with very easy to follow instructions for the lay rescuers,” she says. “It comes complete with a training kit which makes it a great choice for any cottage owner.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN