John Schell knows how important lifesaving training can be.
John Schell was one of many Muskokans who took part in a CPR training course at the Port Carling Community Centre on Saturday, October 20. Schell's life was saved by the techniques years ago, and he continues to recertify his skills each year in case he needs to use them one day on someone else himself. (Photo by Louis Tam)
On Saturday, Oct. 20, Schell was one of about 50 people who attended a CPR training course run by Muskoka EMS at the Port Carling Community Centre. Schell said the lifesaving skills taught that day were the same ones that saved his life seven years ago when he had a sudden heart attack.
“It was CPR and a defibrillator that brought me back,” he said. “Each day’s been a gift since then.”
Schell has had CPR training himself since his teens, and regularly takes recertification courses to stay prepared. While he has given first aid to someone in distress, he says he’s been fortunate in that he hasn’t had to use his CPR or defibrillator skills yet.
“But I’m confident in the fact that if I did, I would be able to help them and jump into action,” he said. “Just having that knowledge is the difference between seconds or minutes that can literally save someone’s life.”
Getting refreshed on those skills regularly, Schell said, is equally important as lifesaving skills are constantly evolving.
“Defibrillators weren’t even in the public when I first took my courses,” he said. “Getting trained on proper use of those could be the difference between life and death for someone.”
CPR courses by Muskoka EMS are generally run twice a year in south Muskoka, and train or recertify about 200 people in the community each year. Muskoka EMS paramedic Paola Oke says that on top of those numbers, organizers also hope to spread those lifesaving skills beyond just the attendees.
“We give them a CPR kit, a friends and family kit, and what we hope to attain from that is that they take those home and train their family members,” she said.
Oke said Medavie EMS is also in the process of placing an additional 47 defibrillators in various locations within south Muskoka.
Schell reminds readers that because it takes time for paramedics to respond when 911 is called, being trained in CPR as an ordinary citizen is especially crucial.
“It’s usually going to be a regular person like yourself that comes across someone in trouble. It takes precious minutes for those ambulances to get there,” he said. “(CPR courses) are free or very inexpensive, and the price of a life is priceless.”