Med students hope people will learn CPR and potentially save a life
MONTREAL -- Saturday was the final day of World Restart a Heart Week and McGill University medical students and professionals were spreading the word that anyone can save a life with a little bit of CPR training.
The student-run project offered participants free CPR training all week.
Olympian and physician Joannie Rochette's mother had a heart attack at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and she recounted the terrible story.
"You can double or triple their chance of survival by doing CPR," she said.
Dr. Farhan Bhanji reminded the group that you don't have to be fully trained in CPR to help.
"If you don't do anything, you're hurting them," he said. "Their chance of survival drops by about 7-10 per cent every minute that CPR and an AED - automated external defibrillator - is delayed. You need to act in that moment. The ambulance won't get there in time, other people might not get there, we need you to act in that moment."
As part of the project, participants practiced chest compressions and learned about the AED.
"They think it's an important life skill and it's given them a bit of confidence," said McGill med student Mehdi Hegagi. "It's not a full course but it's a nice short overview on how to do it, so if there's nobody else around, they can step in and do some CPR."
Experts say it is often someone you know who needs help.
"The majority of sudden cardiac arrests happen outside of the hospital and, even more so, at home, so the person who is going to have the highest impact on survival is not the health-care worker it's going to be the loved one," said McGill med student Carla Apostolova.
The students also made a video to get people feeling confident they can help by using the AED.
"You should never hesitate even if you haven't had prior training, which helps because it looks complicated to use, but it really has two buttons: ON and SHOCK," said emergency physician Dr. Francois de Champlain. "The machine will tell you if a shock is recommended. It will analyze the rhythm underlying in their person unresponsive and if a shock is advised it will tell you to push on the shock button."
Those running the project say surviving cardiac arrest shouldn't be a matter of luck.
"Ultimately the power to save a life is in your hands," said Bhanji.