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Life-saving lessons on Main Street mark World Heart Day

Pics by Johnny Bugeja

The Gibraltar Cardiac Association marked World Heart Day yesterday with a stall in the Piazza where demonstrations on how to give CPR and use AED [defibrillator] machines were also held.

“This morning has been fantastic, really good,” said chairwoman of the GCA, Suyenne Catania.

“The public response has been brilliant. Everyone has been asking what are we up to and we are getting a lot of thank you(s) from the public saying we are making people aware of how important it is to look after the heart.”

“We are also getting people to come and learn about CPR so I could not ask for more.”

By midday over 20 people learnt how to administer CPR including the Governor Sir David Steel, the Mayor Christian Santos and the leader of the Together Gibraltar Marlene Hassan Nahon.

“It’s great that the public are coming forward saying ‘you know I would really like to learn more about this’, which is one of the main aims of the charity,” said Ms Catania.

“To get people aware of what you have to do to look after your heart and also to there ready should anything unfortunately happen and you witness it.”

The event was also to raise funds for the charity as they were unable to hold their flag day this year.

Ms Catania reported that people were being very generous as usual and that the charity appreciated this.

Overseeing the instructions on CPR and the usage of an AED by the GHA Ambulance team was Dr Elaine Flores, who is a GP at the Primary Care Centre and the clinical director of 111.

“What we are trying to do is raise awareness to the public that it is very important if somebody collapses that starting basic life support can certainly save a life until the ambulance arrives,” said Dr Flores.

“We are trying to teach the public how to access if somebody is breathing and if they are not, to ask somebody for help straightaway, ring for the ambulance and start chest compressions.”

She stressed that CPR is extremely vital and absolutely lifesaving.

“It increases the patient’s chance of survival tenfold,” she said.

“As soon as you get those hands on the chest and start compressions you will increase the survival rate of that patient.”

While the AED is very important, CPR is the most important factor first. Ideally a person would start chest compressions while another person runs to get an AED, all while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

“The defibrillator will increase the chances. It will test if there is any shockable rhythm and therefore will direct the bystander to shock the patient,” said Dr Flores.

“It is all automatic. The defibrillator will access the rhythm, sense if it is shockable or not shockable and then will advise ‘stay away from the patient, shocking advised’, then you stay away from the patient, a shock is delivered and then you start compressions again.”

In using both CPR and an AED the person’s chance of survival increases dramatically, she stated.

“It is exhausting, it is tiring to do chest compressions because if you are doing it properly you do have to exert a certain level of pressure. So if somebody else comes around and says ‘I can do compressions as well’, then keep swopping as that is probably better,” she said.

She notes that while it is not difficult to crack a person’s rib while administering compressions it is better to save a person’s life than being worried about a fractured rib which will heal.

“It is more important that you get the depth and the rate of compressions right and you get that heart continuing to circulate that blood around the brain to keep that patient alive,” said Dr Flores.

The Minister for Health Samantha Sacramento also popped down to support the charity at its stall.

“Today is a good opportunity to raise awareness of a healthy heart and heart health. It is also an opportunity to showcase the services that are available by the GHA but more importantly the partnership between the GHA and the Cardiac Association,” said Ms Sacramento.

“Because when it comes to things like raising awareness these are best done together. You can tell from today what a good relationship that the hospital and the health service providers have with the charity. It is a very successful one which we will continue to grow.”

“After the pandemic is it important that we look after our health. So I am grateful that they have organised such a great campaign and awareness day because it is a good reminder for us that it is an important thing that we have to do,” she added.

AED machines can be found at the following locations

Europa Point
St Michael’s Cave
Ground Cable Car Station
Piazza
ICC Entrance
Tercentenary Sports Hall
Port Terminal
Coach Terminus
Airport Check in
Airport Departures
Catalan Bay
Eastern Beach
Camp Bay
Sandy Bay
Western Beach (summer season only)
Europa Pool
Small Boats Marina

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