Learning skills today to save a life tomorrow

Fire Chief Colin Cannon helping facilitate AED skills practice with training props. Photo supplied

At a party one of your friends stumbles, drink in hand. They pass out, hit their head against the wall and  slump to the ground barely breathing. What do you do?

Attendees at two community education evenings held at Burfield Lodge in December were given a similar scenario to ponder.

Hosted by Sun Peaks Mountain Rescue Society (SPMRS) and the Sun Peaks Health Centre, the free workshops taught techniques to help save someone unresponsive due to cardiac arrest or opioid overdose.

Dr. Shane Barclay presented the topics before attendees were given the opportunity to practice skills using simulation props, including six automated external defibrillator (AED) training devices purchased by SPMRS with funds raised at the Firefighter Society’s Charity Gala in November.

The first education evening, held Dec. 17, focused on two steps to save a person from cardiac arrest; cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED use.

Attendees learned the importance of bystander CPR and quick application of an AED to maximise chances of survival. But as important as knowing how to use an AED is knowing where to find one in an emergency.

There are only two public AEDs in Sun Peaks. One, bought by the Sun Peaks Interact Club, is located in the Sun Peaks Grand Residences lobby entrance while the other is at the Sports Centre. Others exist in restaurants and hotels, where they may not be easily accessible or signposted. Barclay is an advocate for increased visibility in public areas.

“If you have an AED, don’t hide it! It doesn’t do any good locked up somewhere,” he said.

The second session, held Dec. 19, focused on drug overdose.

Example of a Naloxone kit. | PHOTO mountainside-medical.com/

Particular attention was given to the opioid crisis which has claimed the lives of 9,000 people across Canada in the last two years according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Workshop attendees were taught to recognise overdose and respond appropriately, to immediately call 911 and position the person on their side to help open the airway.

Attendees were also shown how to administer naloxone – also known by its trade
name Narcan – to individuals suspected of overdosing on fentanyl or other opioid drugs, like heroin and morphine.

“I can yak and yak but I want people to know how to draw up a vial; it takes a bit of finesse,” said Barclay.

Sun Peaks resident, Louise England, attended both education sessions and said the most useful aspect was practicing the skills, noting that she had never given an injection before.

“I’m pretty clumsy at it, but at least I have the theory and now I have the kit,” she said, referring to the naloxone kits attendees were given.

Kits are available at the Health Centre for free, along with instruction on how to use them.

SPMRS and the Health Clinic hope to turn community education sessions into a regular event.

Residents are encouraged to contact the Health Centre to register their interest.

“I would encourage everybody at Sun Peaks to attend these kinds of sessions,” said England. “If
someone’s in a really difficult position, no matter what you do to help is going to be better than

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