Minto residents show their heart at CPR course

 When it comes to caring, Minto residents have shown their true hearts.

Instead of celebrating Val­en­tine’s Day in one of the more traditional ways, residents were out in full force at the Har­riston Fire Hall taking part in a Level One CPR course offered through the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Sam AbiSaab, community mission specialist with the local regional office of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, said the CPR awareness training provides basic skills and a CPR kit, which will help participants train family and friends.

The idea, he said, is not just to train those at the day’s events, but to have the skills spread out into the community.

He noted this is the first such program offered by Heart  and Stroke in the rural northern area of the county.

“Typically, the cities are more exposed to this type of program,” AbiSaab said.

To put the issue into perspective, AbiSaab said that of the number of heart attacks in Ontario each year, only 5% survive without intervention.

“If we can get to that person within the first five minutes, we can pump the survival rate by up to 50%. This shows you how important what we are doing here today [is].

“Our aim is to have every home in the town to have at least one person trained in CPR.”

Kieran Ballah noted participation was not limited to just Harriston and Minto.

He said 74 people were registered for the course.

“There are people from Guelph, Belwood, Rockwood, Harriston, Gorrie, Mount For­est, Arthur and Palmerston.”

“It speaks very well of you to be doing this on Valentine’s Day.”

He noted that while there were a number of instructors on hand, much of the program was video based.

“After you are done today, you will all know how to go and save a life,” Ballah said.

Minto deputy-mayor Judy Dirksen welcomed participants to Minto. She noted the instructors of the day were volunteering their time.

Dirksen also said the partners involved in the day’s event including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Guelph-Well­ing­ton EMS, K&L Health Ser­vices, and the Minto Fire De­partment – with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foun­dation.

Ballah said clinical death comes when the heart stops beating and the lungs stop breathing.

“Clinical death is rever­sible. Clinical death does not have to be forever. You can bring someone back from clinical death … and you do that with CPR,” he said.

“You should never be afraid to do this because anything is better than doing nothing.

“There is nothing you can do to hurt a person who is clinically dead to make it worse.”

If the rescuer does nothing, the person goes from clinically dead to biologically dead.

“Which is when they put you in the ground,” Ballah said. He said having CPR training increases the survival rates significantly.

“The more people who are trained, the more people that can be saved … When you start doing CPR, you will keep doing it until the emergency services arrive.”

He explained that CPR on its own does not restart the heart, but for every minute a person is in cardiac arrest without CPR or defibrillation reduces their chance of survival by 7% to 10%, he added.

“It’s all about time.”

“What CPR does is keep the body oxygenated, so that when the fire department or ambulance personnel arrive you hand over to them a salvageable human being … a human being that will respond better to the more advanced techniques.”