Vernon agency helps save lives

Community Futures North Okanagan has installed an automated external defibrillator.

Employees, clients, visitors, and the community around Community Futures North Okanagan will have a better chance of surviving a cardiac arrest because of a newly installed automated external defibrillator.

The AED is a part of Community Futures’ new public access defibrillation program, which trains company volunteers to recognize a cardiac emergency and use the device to shock the heart into a regular rhythm.

“We want to be sure we can effectively respond to any medical emergency that happens on our property,” said Norm Metcalf, general manager.

According to St. John Ambulance, between 40,000 to 45,000 Canadians of all ages experience cardiac arrest each year, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation says 80 per cent of those cases occur outside of the hospital.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition when the heart has stopped pumping blood (containing oxygen and nutrients) to the body.  This condition is mainly caused by an irregular heart rhythm.

The odds of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest can increase to around 70 per cent when early CPR is used in conjunction with an AED in the first few minutes.

For every minute that the AED is delayed, the chance of survival for someone with sudden cardiac arrest decreases by 10 per cent.

The simple-to-use AED can tell when a heart stops beating effectively and delivers an electric shock to help restart the heart. Early defibrillation, combined with early CPR, can improve cardiac arrest survival rates by up to 50 per cent or more.

Concern about being able to ensure quick defibrillation caused Community Futures to set up a defibrillation program with their AED.

“We have a large employee population, work with many clients in our facility and are in a central location in the community, so we worked with St. John Ambulance to set up our program,” said Metcalf.

“Vernon is a typical community with limited access to AEDs and more common access to AEDs would reduce the death rate from sudden cardiac arrest.”