February is Heart Month, and Toronto paramedics and emergency medical dispatchers are encouraging Toronto residents to help a paramedic save a life. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has prepared a series of public service announcements to point out how bystanders can get involved in helping others.
Last year bystanders saved the lives of 11 patients experiencing cardiac arrest. These bystanders called 911 for paramedics, immediately started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and asked for the automated external defibrillator (AED). Some of the people they helped had their pulse back before the paramedics arrived.
Councillor Anthony Perruzza, (Ward 8 York West) says, “Now that I have tried hands-only CPR and learned how to use an AED, I won’t hesitate to call 911, start CPR, and ask for the public access defibrillator, if and when I see someone who needs my help.”
Danny Wu was 15 years old and in Grade 10 at Harbord C.I. in December 2010. He was participating in swim class when he suffered a cardiac arrest in the pool. The school’s swim instructor, his gym teacher and the vice principal stepped in to start CPR, retrieve the school’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and gave Danny three life-saving shocks before the paramedics arrived to take over his care. Danny is a university student today and fully enjoying the opportunities life has to offer him.Most mornings, for the past twenty-five years, he swam laps at the local pool before heading to work. On January 18, 2013, Paul Andaloro felt fine and was doing his warm down twenty-eighth lap when he suffered a cardiac arrest in the pool.
The quick thinking guards pulled him, not-breathing and unconscious, to the pool’s deck and immediately started CPR and called for the AED. Before the Toronto EMS paramedics arrived, the lifeguards administered the first shock and the paramedics took over from there.
He didn’t remember a thing about his cardiac arrest except – once paramedics realized his swim plugs were still in his ears and removed them – he could hear the comforting tones of his daughter’s voice gently encouraging him to communicate.
Robert Townsend loves the Blue Jays and August 28, 2013 was a great day. He watched the Jays win their game against the Yankees 7-2. It was a beautiful summer night and he was walking with the rest of the post-game crowds toward the Go Train at Union Station with his friend Peter.
As he waited for his friend to buy a coffee, while waiting to catch the train home, out of the blue he felt slightly nauseous and suddenly the “lights just went out”. Two and a half hours later, Robert saw doctors high-fiving as he awoke post-surgery with a brand new chance at life.
On January 20, 2014, Toronto personality and radio host Mike Bullard joined Toronto EMS at TTC’s Yonge and Bloor subway station. Toronto EMS’ Safe City Program currently maintains a public access defibrillator program that consists of over 1,400 Automated External Defibrillators in public places across the City including in every TTC subway station.
With Toronto EMS’ and TTC’s help Mike learned how easy it is to step in and help a paramedic to save a live.
Gayle Pollock, Commander Toronto EMS Safe City Program says that “Patients who suffer a cardiac arrest have a 75 per cent better chance of survival if CPR is started immediately and a public access defibrillator is used.”
That is why the City of Toronto’s Safe City Program has helped to place 1,400 AEDs in public places such as TTC subway stations, City-run community centres, swimming pools and skating rinks.
Also, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly recently learned that saving a life with an AED and CPR is as easy as 1-2-3In addition to these video testimonials, Toronto EMS has prepared radio advertising to tell everyone about the powerful combination of AEDs and CPR.
To save a life using an AED and CPR, perform the following 3 easy steps:
1. Call 911 for the paramedics.
2. Start CPR; push hard and fast on the person’s chest to the beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive”
3. Ask for the AED, follow the instructions, and administer a life-saving shock if necessary.
AEDs are so easy that anyone can use one, but to become a super-bystander, take a course on CPR and AEDs offered by the Toronto EMS Safe City program. You can learn about the courses and register right here.