Training key to patient’s survival

NANAIMO - St. John Ambulance is helping community members save lives in Nanaimo.

Merv Unger

Merv Unger

St. John Ambulance is helping community members save lives with medical training.

The organization offers a variety of first aid courses including bystander first aid, medical first responders training, emergency response and preparedness and more.

Training and equipment can mean the difference between life and death. During an emergency situation such as a heart attack minutes are crucial for patient survival.

Merv Unger, chairman of the St. John Foundation for B.C. and the Yukon, said the first four minutes are the most important to ensure a patient’s survival during a heart attack and after 15 minutes the chance of survival decreases significantly.

“If you have the training and a defibrillator on hand the chance of survival is tremendous,” he said.

Many facilities such as municipal recreation centres and shopping malls are now purchasing defibrillators, which can cost about $1,500.

“One life saved is worth all of it,” said Unger.

Companies are using St. John Ambulance to train employees in first aid, including a major grocery store chain – employees used their training to save a customer who suffered a heart attack and collapsed.

“It’s great to hear stories like that,” said Unger, who was recently appointed chairman of the foundation after serving as a director of the foundation and the St. John Ambulance Society for B.C. and Yukon. Nanaimo’s Doug Slowski was also recently elected as a director on the provincial council.

Unger joined the organization in 2000 when the Nanaimo branch reached out to news organizations and other community groups to help raise money for its building.

As the new chairman Unger is trying to build partnerships with corporations to purchase equipment for training and for use in the field.

In 2012 3,665 students, 20 first responders, 21 youth volunteers and 17 therapy dog handlers were trained at the Nanaimo branch. Members volunteered at 75 community events during the year for a total of 9,500 hours and treated 249 injured patients.

For more information, please call 250-729-8889.