Making a Life Saving Shock Accessible

Amanda Ockeloen

Amanda Ockeloen shows off the Municipal Hall’s new Automatic External Defibrillator. Photo credit – Meribeth Deen

By Meribeth Deen – Bowen Island Undercurrent
Feb 10, 2014 at 11:00 AM

First Aid instructor and former paramedic Amanda Ockeloen’s first rule of emergency response comes down to thinking ahead and formulating a plan ahead of time. As one of the leaders of Bowen Island’s Sun Run group, not only does she carry basic first aid supplies with her on each run, she also considers every route with key address points so that if something happens and she needs to call in for extra help, she can communicate the group’s exact whereabouts without hesitation. Ockeloen’s recently taken on the position Municipal Emergency Planning Coordinator, but she’s recently been caught up in a personal project: to make the knowledge of life-saving Automated Electronic Defibrillators (AEDs) accessible on all parts of Bowen, and to make their whereabouts common knowledge.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, every twelve minutes someone in Canada experiences sudden cardiac arrest, and 85 percent of those incidents happen outside of hospital – making properly delivered emergency care critical. The basic emergency procedure to deal with this situation, which, when it works, involves actually bringing someone back to life, is Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Every five years, the standards and method of delivering this potentially life-saving process is updated by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR).

“We used to do fifteen chest compressions and then two breaths,” says Ockeloen. “But now the technique’s motto is push hard and push fast, you should be delivering 100 chest compressions to a depths of 5cm every minute, and breathing twice into the victim’s lungs after every 30 compressions.”

The latest guidelines on CPR also recommend early defibrillation to increase chances of survival.

Compact, relatively inexpensive and easy to use, AEDs are becoming more common in public spaces, and private spaces as well. “I’m pretty sure any London Drugs you’d walk into in downtown Vancouver would have one,” says Ockeloen.

When an AED is used alongside CPR within five minutes of cardiac arrest, the chances of the cardiac arrest victim’s survival increase by 80 percent compared to the delivery of CPR alone.

These machines come inside a kit about half the size of a standard business briefcase, and include two pads which the rescuer places on the top right and lower left sides of the victim’s chest, and a small machine which delivers perfectly timed electrical shocks to the victim’s heart.

“The kit shows you exactly where to place the pads, and once you turn the machine on it tells you exactly what it’s doing, and exactly what to do,” says Ockeloen.

Ockeloen says she’s started researching where all the AED’s are on Bowen.

“There’s one at the Rec office below BICS, and the Municipal Hall got one recently. The Orchard just got two, but as far as I know, there are no AEDs on the West side of the island.”

Ockeloen says she wants to put a map of Bowen together that pinpoints the location of these life-saving devices. When that’s complete, she’ll be able to find the gaps, and start looking for ways to fill them in.

“An AED costs about $1200. I know there are grants and public programs to help cover the costs of putting them into public spaces, but fundraising is also a possibility. The Tunstall Bay Clubhouse should have one, and so should the golf course.These things only work if they are used within the first five or ten minutes, so being able access one as quickly as possibly is often the difference between life and death.”

Teaching people how to use them, and how to deliver CPR is an ongoing process. All First Aid courses now have AED training in them.

Amanda Ockeloen teaches Emergency First Aid Courses for Adults and Youth through Bowen Island Recreation. Check out the Rec guide for information on upcoming courses.