PHOTO: Charles Zafonte learns proper CPR &use of an AED from Sarah Locke, UMFK Nursing student
Fort Kent ~ Each year, approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States. That is one in every four deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Every year, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Twenty three percent of the general population will die of a heart attack. Only three percent of people who collapse outside of a hospital from a heart attack will survive unless an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is used in a timely manner. These sobering statistics are the driving force behind Dr. John Joseph’s local efforts to make a difference. Dr. Joseph, an Emergency Department physician at Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC), strongly believes that more can be done to increase the chance for survival prior to arrival to the Emergency Room. According to a study reported by the New England Journal of Medicine, “A well developed, monitored, layperson enacted CPR response plan which includes training in the use of an AED which can increase the number of survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in public locations.” Dr. Joseph has taken action in support of this recommendation in an effort to increase out of hospital survival rates.
Steve Daigle, co-owner of Walker’s Pub in Fort Kent, said this initiative started out as a discussion with Dr. Joseph who has taught several courses in communities in other parts of the state of Maine. Daigle said, “I recently realized that I don’t know how to use an AED. With the amount of people who congregate here on Main Street at various businesses, we know that there is a risk that someone might collapse and require assistance. It only makes sense to make this available.” Armed with this knowledge, together, Steve Daigle and Dr. Joseph planned the first free class to train members of the public on proper CPR and use of an AED on May 25, 2017, and it was a huge success. Daigle and Joseph teamed up to offer the free course and were joined by volunteer instructors: Paula Carson-Charette, Family Nurse Practitioner; Don Eno, Emergency Medical Technician; Sarah Locke, UMFK Nursing Student and Rebecca Michaud, Registered Nurse and NMMC Community Educator.
Thirty enthusiastic individuals participated in the interactive course and received a certificate of completion suitable for framing. Dr. Joseph salutes these participants and calls them leaders in the community. The Pub was closed for business to allow the class to take place uninterrupted; no food or alcohol was served until the class was over. Daigle said, “I did it as a community service. This town has been good to me and this is my way of giving back. My initial goal is to engage other business owners to do the same and to train a total of two hundred people.” Daigle said he is in the process of researching strategies to obtain financial support to purchase AED’s to be placed in business locations in the town. Individuals or businesses interested in learning how to obtain assistance for funding the purchase of an AED may call the number below. According to Dr. Joseph, a second course will be offered to the public on July 14, 2017. To learn more or to register, call Rebecca Michaud at 207-834-1934.
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