A Shetland ambulance technician has launched a campaign to encourage more people to learn about basic life support training such as CPR – with her well-known dogs the star of the show.
Kaylee Garrick, who lives in Scalloway, hopes that using her many pooches in the campaign will help to catch people’s attention, as well as strip back any fears people may have of learning CPR.
Her Don’t Paws, Start CPR Facebook page already features an instructional video of her well-trained dog Fenton carrying out life-saving CPR on a mannequin.
Ms Garrick is well known for her photos of her army of camera-friendly dogs, but as her day job she works for the ambulance service in Shetland.
She said that effective CPR being carried out on people suffering a cardiac arrest prior to an ambulance arriving can make a huge difference.
CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, involves chest compressions and artificial ventilation to help pump blood around the person’s body when their heart is not able to do the job.
“Throughout my years in the service, I have witnessed many cardiac arrests with both good and sad outcomes,” Garrick said.
“But one thing that has been very apparent to me in these circumstances is the difference in the patient’s outcome when effective CPR has begun prior to the ambulance arrival.
“I find it very troubling how many incidents I have attended where no form of life support has begun and to see how fearful people are in the absence of knowledge on what to do in a cardiac arrest scenario.
“Shetland is very lucky to have a number of community-based defibrillators and yet there are still many who fail to recognise them or see the importance in learning what is a very simple but life-saving skill. You never know – it could be your loved one who needs it next.”
Ms Garrick said the UK has on average a 7% out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rate, but in Scandinavia this figure is closer to 20% – possibly because CPR is taught in schools and information on cardiac arrests is more widely-known.
“While CPR is an easy skill to learn, the subject and reality of death surrounding the issue is not an easy one to cope with for most, especially if you have lost a loved one and witnessed a crew performing chest compressions for yourself,” Ms Garrick added.
“It can also be scary for children to see on a dummy too. So, I wanted to take away from this by using the dogs to alleviate some of this fear. It’s time we started talking and taking action – knowing what to do and doing something about it is far better than the regret and thought of ‘could I have saved them?’”