The need for accessible automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) has been acknowledged in Penticton, and a successful campaign to add more to the community is paying dividends.
An AED on standby at the Penticton Community Centre had to be put to use by two staffers on April 16 after pickleball player Gary Gierlich collapsed on the court and was not breathe properly.
Lisa O’Daly and Graeme Naish, both recreation department employees, responded by initiating the AED and CPR.
“The AED indicated a shock was required, so Lisa delivered it,” said recreation manager Lori Mullin in a briefing note to council. “There was no response from Gary so Graeme continued CPR. After another 30 compressions and one breath, Gary started breathing and regained consciousness.”
Gierlich was then taken by ambulance to the hospital for treatment.
“The rescue was flawlessly executed and, without a doubt, saved Gary’s life.”
“The motions you got through (during the rescue) are the same as the training but the actual feeling was totally different,” Naish said. He said a strong feeling of relief was experienced once he notice Gierlich to be breathing on his own again, and credits O’Daly for initiating the procedure.
“By the time I got there I was just able to get in and go to work, she had everything basically ready to go.”
Naish’s role at the community centre requires him to undergo safety courses to do with CPR, AEDs and lifeguarding, which last about four hours and are held every three months.
The efforts were recognized before council on June 1 during a recognition of excellence presentation.
“I feel like Penticton’s lottery winner,” Gierlich told council, adding that he was inspired by the entire procedure, even including the follow through in ensuring his recovery.
In addition to the council meeting, O’Daly and Naish were recognized alongside their workplace by the Lifesaving Society on May 22. The following day, Gierlich was in good enough shape to visit his saviours.
“There were a few tears from everyone … his gratitude is really beyond words. He is expected to make a full recovery and plans to be back at pickleball as soon as the doctor says it is okay.”
A similar rescue took place in 2012 during a baseball game at Lion’s Park, where Grant Gichard, who was in good health, collapsed on the field as a result of a cardiac arrest. Fortunately, firefighters were playing in the same match. They had an AED on hand and knew how to treat Gichard.
According to the heart and Stroke Foundation, the use of an AED combined with CPR increases the chances of survival by at least 75 per cent.
“There was such a disparity that it became a public health issue,” Gichard said. “(The province) started to mandate the installation of these devices because there’s such a clear-cut advantage.”
“We are hoping to place over 700 AEDs by early 2017 and are actively seeking venues,” Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Shelley Parker said in an email. “Anyone interested in having an AED at their publicly accessible facility can complete an application form also found on bcpadprogram.ca.”
A province-wide registry of AED locations launched last fall, so that when a respiratory emergency is phoned in the dispatcher can tell the caller where the nearest AED is, in case it can be accessed before the ambulance arrives. It is also free for public use at bcpadprogram.ca.