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PRC’s shockwaves of change: reshaping the health response

By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay

“Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the country, accounting for 18.6% of the total deaths in the Philippines.”


This was shared by Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Camarines Sur Chapter Board of Director and Chairman of Safety and Health Services Dr. Joke Zantua during the launching of the Public Access Defibrillator Program at the SM City Naga on Saturday, Aug.12.

This also coincides with the chapter’s commemoration of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) celebration conducted at the same location on the corresponding date.


Dr. Zantua said the use of the Automated External Defibrillator (AED), once it is readily installed in hotels, shopping mall lobbies, airports, places frequented by visitors and areas where most people converge, can save more lives. It can also have a transformative impact on lessening, if not totally eliminating the risk of unforeseen cardiac failure.


“Experts estimate that 100,000 lives could be saved each year if AEDs were widely used. Having more AEDs available for use in public places and having more people trained in using it will greatly increase survival rates for people who experience sudden cardiac arrest,” Zantua added.


Zantua said that when a person suffers from sudden cardiac arrest, chances of survival decrease by 7 to 10 percent for each minute that passes without defibrillation.


“A person’s best chance for survival is when there is revival within 4 minutes,” Zantua said.


AED- a life saving device


The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a specialized device carefully designed to administer an electric shock through the chest wall to the heart. Built-in computer systems analyze the patient’s heart rhythm, determine whether defibrillation is needed, then administers an appropriate level of shock or intensity.


The apparatus is user-friendly as instructions are given through the audible or visual prompts that will serve as the user’s guide in going through the process.


As explained by Dr. Zantua, AED should be used when the heart’s rhythm enters an irregular electrical state known as fibrillation, during which the heart experiences erratic contractions and is unable to effectively circulate blood properly.


“This condition often accompanies a severe heart attack which stops the patient’s heart from beating. The use of the AED will give the heart an opportunity to resume beating. But when the patient has been in cardiac arrest for more than a few minutes, especially if no CPR was administered, AEDs become less effective,” PRC Director Dr. Zantua explained.


He added that with the critical time a cardiac arrest patient has, AEDs should be made available in public places such as malls, theaters, sports arenas, public buildings, job sites and airports. He said that a number of commercial airplanes are now equipped with the said apparatus, alongside enhanced medical kits.


Shockwaves of Change


Dubbed “Shockwaves of Change,” Dr. Zantua, principal proponent of the PRC fund-raising project, believes that the Public Access Defibrillator Program can increase public safety.


On the part of the business owners, an AED purchase can enhance their public image as they are compliant with legal and regulatory requirements, and will give training opportunities to their employees.


Moreover, they will be given tax exemption as their purchase will be classified under donation to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).


“PRC’s mission is to ensure that we reach the most vulnerable people so that they will be enabled and ennobled. To achieve this, we need the help of our stakeholders, partners and patrons to help us, not just to raise funds but to ensure that we deliver health and safety services to the members of the community,” PRC Camarines Sur OIC Chapter Administrator Maria Felisa Badiola said.


PRC, a humanitarian organization, holds a prominent position as one of the leading providers of first aid training. Through its Safety Services division, it is entrusted with a widespread educational initiative aimed at safeguarding the health and well-being of the Filipino populace.


How can you help?


Dr. Zantua is calling upon proprietors of business establishments, mall owners and heads of government agencies with operations engaging in substantial crowds such as airports and sea ports, to donate P200,000.00, which corresponds to the cost of the AED.


“We are also inviting everyone to spread this information and help us in increasing the awareness that we can save lives by strategically putting AEDs in public places,” Dr. Zantua appealed.


Other than the health and safety services, PRC Camarines also offers other services like blood, disaster management, welfare, membership, and Red Cross Youth (RCY) among others.


“We remain true to our battle cry of being Always First, Always Ready, Always There,” PRC Camarines Sur Chapter Chairman of the Board and San Fernando Mayor Fermin Mabulo said. (PIA 5)


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