The Laurentian Child and Family Centre, located on the university campus, was presented with a new automatic external defibrillator (AED) Monday on behalf of the Chase McEachern Memorial Fund.
An AED is used to help people suffering cardiac arrest by analyzing the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, delivering an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm. Laurentian Child and Family Centre is believed to be the only daycare in Sudbury to have an AED on site.
The donation was secured with help from Dr. Robert Ohle and Dr. Sarah McIsaac, who recently introduced the Northern City of Heroes initiative to improve the survival rate of individuals who suffer from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. To achieve this, McIsaac said they aim to change the culture associated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and usage of AEDs, by focusing on early, hands-on education.
This initiative was inspired by Ohle and McIsaac's position at Health Science North, where they work within the emergency unit and intensive care unit/anesthesia department respectively.
"We, unfortunately, have patients coming in that suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, and we see first-hand if they never received bystander CPR or they never had an AED, their overall chances of survival are poor," said McIsaac.
"Every minute that you don't perform CPR on a patient who's suffering from cardiac arrest, their chance of survival decreases by 10 per cent; so (after) 10 minutes, (with) no CPR (and) no AED, the chances of them going home is almost zero."
According to McIsaac, statistics show that less than 50 per cent of people would receive CPR in Sudbury if they had an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. She said aside from those who are unfamiliar with the process, this is often a result of people being scared to hurt the individual needing CPR.
To that, McIsaac said she reminds those in her class that, “you can’t hurt someone whose dead.” “If you break their ribs, that's okay, I can fix their broken ribs,” she said. “We can't fix the brain cells that die from lack of oxygen.”
Northern City of Heroes hosted free CPR training at Science North all throughout the month of May, during which they provided participants with the opportunity to practice CPR on a machine that gave them real-time feedback on their technique. McIsaac said they hope to install a permanent exhibit at the science centre, where people could practice and learn life-saving techniques at their leisure.
“We want Sudbury to have the highest rates of bystander CPR in the country,” said McIsaac.
Not long after this round of presentations, McIsaac suggested hosting a class for the three- and four-year-olds at Laurentian Child and Family Centre where both her and Ohle’s children attend. After making arrangements with Theresa Mills, executive director of the daycare, Northern City of Heroes made their presentation using teddy bears and baby shark to teach CPR and use of an AED.
McIsaac said that following this training she is confident that, “while they might not be strong enough to do effective CPR ... a lot of them could teach an adult how to do it.”
In further discussion with Mills, McIsaac suggested the daycare apply for an AED through the Chase McEachern Memorial Fund and put her in contact with John to make arrangements.
While the children’s demonstration of their skill was heartwarming for John McEachern to see, board chair of the Chase McEachern Memorial Fund and father of the late Chase McEachern, he said it was not surprising, seeing as how comfortable youth are becoming with the use of technology.
“It’s mind-boggling how far ahead they are,” said John. “(But) that’s what it’s all about, getting them involved.”
The Chase McEachern Memorial Fund, known affectionately as Chase’s Dream, was started by Chase’s parents, John and Dorothy, and his brother Cole, following the boy's sudden passing on Feb. 9, 2006. Chase had developed an atrial flutter in October 2005, from getting hit in a game of pick-up football said John, that eventually resulted in him collapsing at school from cardiac arrest.
Seeing as his school did not have an AED, John said, Chase suffered severe brain damage as a result of the incident, which led to his passing six days later. Prior to his death, Chase made the decision to advocate for the availability of AEDs and life-saving training, inspired by his own heart condition and those of hockey’s greats.
This is the mission carried by his family today said John because that’s what his boy had wanted. He recalled one night at the dinner table after the initial accident, when the family was going around the table discussing defibrillators and he reminded Chase, “you know, we're going to have to fight city hall. You know we have to fundraise, you know there's insurance, there's this and that.”
“And all he said to me was, ‘Get it done,’ and that’s what I go by — get it done, one defibrillator at a time,” said John.
Through their efforts, the Chase McEachern Act was introduced in 2006, protecting people from liability if they assisted someone, using a defibrillator, at an emergency (under certain conditions) or (again under certain conditions) if they made defibrillators available in good faith. Their current mission is to make it mandatory to have an AED in public spaces.
AEDs, like the one now located at Laurentian Child and Family Centre, cost anywhere between $1,500 to $2,400 depending on the model. While Chase's Dream focuses on donating AEDs to non-profits, John said others are more than welcome to make a donation through their website or contact the organization directly to purchase an AED with Chase’s discount wholesale.
“I don't make a thing on them,” he said. “I just get another defibrillator out, which is all I care about.”
Executive director Mills said she could not be more happy to have the AED on location, not only for the benefit of those attending daycare as children or guardians but the entire Laurentian community.