Community training, public defibrillators to be pushed


HEAD of the Accident & Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr. Cheynie Williams, says in addition to ongoing internal staff training on life support techniques at varying levels, the organisation will also be partnering with several agencies to train persons in communities across the island.
In addition to working with non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations (some of whom have already been engaged), in areas such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Dr. Williams revealed that there will also be a push for public access defibrillation.
Public access defibrillation programmes place automated external defibrillators (AED) in communities. An AED is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest.
According to Dr. Williams, “Assuming that our internal training will extrapolate to the communities with which we live, but our intention is also to push for public access defibrillation, so that persons who are in areas where there are large crowds, you would know it is available at the airport, and other facilities. But as a general rule, public access defibrillation is something we think is absolutely important.”
Dr. Williams revealed that this year, the hospital has embarked on mass training programmes internally, “by way of updating all of our staff in basic life support training and doctors, nurses and paramedics in advanced life support training for both adults and children.
“This is ongoing, but we have decided to do mass training because the America Heart Association for whose evidence-based guidelines we follow, have done updates in 2015. So we want to make sure that all of our health-care professionals have all the latest updates and we are all unison and in concert, managing those patients who are in situations of arrest.” She explained that all other ancillary staff will also be trained in basic life support as well as heart safe first aid.
She noted that while the statistics of the early 2000s of sudden cardiac deaths still pertain to today, she said there is an area that is still unknown.
“What we don’t know really is how many out of hospital arrests are due specifically to sudden cardiac arrests. What the evidence suggests is that most persons who have a severe life-threatening cardiac event may present as sudden cardiac death. Similarly, severe pulmonary embolism or clots in the vessels that go to your lungs present in some form of arrest. So they don’t actually reach hospital settings for us to offer any life support for those patients,” she explained. (JH)

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