HFJ Aiming To Create Cardiac-Ready Communities

HFJ Aiming To Create Cardiac-Ready Communities

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), in collaboration with the National Resuscitation Council (NRC), the Jamaica Red Cross and all other resuscitation institutions, has initiated a proposal for 1,000 persons across the island to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, Head of Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) at the HFJ, Dr. Hugh Wong, said that the proposal has been made to the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund and that the group awaits word on funding.

This, Dr. Wong said is geared towards the establishment of cardiac-ready communities across the island and that it was just one step in this process.

He explained that cardiac-ready communities are communities that can readily respond to anyone within the community who has a cardiac-arrest event.

Dr. Wong pointed out that this is not a new concept and exists in many areas of Europe and the United States of America (USA).

The ECC Head, who is also in charge of the Accident and Emergency Department at the Kingston Public Hospital, explained that there are now six links in the chain of survival.

“Up to 2020 it was five.  Now they’ve added another and the six links are Immediate Recognition of Cardiac Arrest and Activation of the Emergency Response System; Early CPR with High-quality Chest Compressions; Rapid Defibrillation (meaning the application of a machine that provides a shock to the heart to restart it); Effective Basic and Advanced Life Support (meaning transport and giving advanced care in hospital); Integrated Post-cardiac Arrest Care and Recovery and Rehabilitation.

“What we need to do is to make sure that each community has all these six links in the chain,” Dr Wong posited.

He said it was important to understand how survival from sudden cardiac arrest can be improved and said that one way is to increase CPR training for citizens and laypersons.

“Next, what we need to do is to increase the availability of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). What is required is not CPR alone. Chest compressions alone will not save the patient if the patient needs to be defibrillated,” Dr. Wong explained.

The ECC Director said another important step in the process is to increase the public awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, early CPR and early defibrillation and that the starting point is in schools.

Dr. Wong stated that the Heart Foundation will play its role in getting the country ready as a cardiac care-ready community by increasing training of the layperson in CPR.

“You don’t have to be a medical person, a nurse or anybody who has medical training. Anybody can learn CPR and, in fact, they have decided that if you do not want to do mouth-to-,mouth which is a part of CPR, you can do chest compressions only until help arrives” he said.

Another important activity, Dr. Wong contended, is the establishment of Cardiac Arrest Registries.

“How do we know that we are saving lives. We need to analyse what is happening in the present community. What do we have? Do we have Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Do we have hospitals. Do we have trained persons. Do we have AEDs. Look at those gaps,” he argued, adding that the registry would help in this regard.

The ECC Director further explained that a support team consisting of persons of influence should be created. These, he said, would include politicians, church leaders, social media activists and influencers, nurses and doctors.

“We need to have a designated leader of the drive for each area and, of course, once we do that we can designate you as a cardiac-ready community and we repeat the process in another area” he said.


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