A Halifax first aid instructor believes more Nova Scotia companies should invest in CPR training to reduce the number of heart attack deaths.

In Canada, a person who suffers a cardiac arrest — while not in a hospital — has a five per cent chance of survival, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

In Seattle, Wash., where there are higher rates of CPR training for local residents, the odds of survival are 62 per cent.

"We would have a much better success rate if more people are trained," said Kyle Mohler, a Red Cross first aid instructor.

Mohler said Seattle has the best survival rate in the world for cardiac arrests, in part due to training. He argues that while CPR training is crucial in a work environment, the knowledge extends far beyond company walls.

"I often tell people to think of their loved ones-— a friend, family member or neighbour— because that's who they will ultimately be saving," he said.

Personal Experience

Bernie Leonard was finishing up his work day at the Glen Arbour Golf Course in Hammond Plains last year when a massive heart attack almost killed him.

"Myself and a young university student were washing carts, parking them in a barn when I just dropped to the ground, which for a young person is pretty scary to witness I would imagine," said Leonard.

His young colleague flagged down a nearby golfer who came to the rescue. 

"He came over and started to work on me. This person was actually a pharmacist who had CPR training and he began working on me pretty quickly," Leonard said.

"He told me afterwards he worked on me for 15 to 20 minutes before professional help arrived."

Leonard says an automatic external defibrillator was also used on him before paramedics arrived.

First 4 to 6 minutes key

That quick action on the golf course way key to saving Leonard's life.

"Brain damage starts anywhere between four to six minutes post-arrest, with very few exceptions," said Mohler. 

"Through no fault of their own, neither fire nor EHS is typically on your doorstep in that time frame. It is absolutely imperative that the public recognize not doing well — not alive, not breathing — and get on the chest without delay."

Mohler adds that over the last decade, CPR guidelines have become "incredibly simplfied."

"We no longer bother checking for pulses," he said.

Thirty chest compressions followed by two mouth-to-mouth pumps is still the best CPR practice recommended by the Canadian Red Cross, said Mohler.