Island Health to offer free CPR training in Victoria

Medical experts, cardiac arrest survivors will train participants how to help in an emergency

Island Health is offering the chance to learn simple life-saving techniques in a series of free training workshops, teaching CPR.

In collaboration with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and supported by BC Emergency Health Services, the Vancouver Island Teachers of Advanced cardiac life support (VITAL) will conduct three afternoon sessions at Royal Jubilee Hospital on April 20.

“It’s such a simple thing to learn and to teach and to do, and it makes such a huge difference for people,” says Dr. Tina Webber, VITAL co-founder and Island Health emergency physician.

Cardiac arrest occurs in 40,000 Canadians each year, but only 25 per cent of those people in B.C. receive care from bystanders. Cardiac arrest is sudden, and by training more people to know how to address a potentially life-threatening situation, patients have a better chance of survival.

The training is open to participants of all ages, particularly youth – over 700 cases of cardiac arrest occur in children per year.

“It’s not uncommon, I’m afraid,” says Webber, who has personally attended to at least three patients in their late teens.

She’ll join other medical professionals in demonstrating hands-only CPR and teach participants to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED), which she calls “a brilliant device” because it only deploys when someone has a heart rhythm incompatible with life.

People are often scared that they may harm somebody, but studies show the risk of significant injury from CPR is minimal, she says. “The majority of cardiac arrests occur in the home. This training means you have the opportunity to save a loved one’s life.”

Cardiac survivors will be on hand to share their stories about the importance of quick support when emergencies like these occur.

Webber points out CPR can also be also used as an initial step in attending to an overdose, as participants will learn how to recognize abnormal breathing. “It’s much easier for our community to think of giving CPR than giving someone a needle, or Narcan,” she says.

Participants who complete the training can download the PulsePoint Respond app. Tracking your location across the province, the app alerts users to a possible victim of cardiac arrest within 400 metres. The app will also provide direction to a public access defibrillator nearby, so you can begin CPR and use the AED until first responders arrive.

One-hour sessions start at 1, 2 and 3 p.m., with space for up to 100 participants in each. Register online at tinyurl.com/CHAMPS-RJH.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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