All of the RCMP vehicles in Williams Lake are now equipped with life-saving defibrillators thanks to the efforts of local artists and the community’s generosity.
In June the first-ever Arts For Hearts raised around $7,000 for community policing to purchase nine defibrillators.
“It was an event where we had local artists displaying art work and local musicians performing in a museum exhibition type setting with appetizers,” Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency Dr. Mike Wolf said.
“The donation was for community policing and was supervised with Dave Dickson.”
“If the ambulances are out of town, we only have two full time ambulances, doing primary and secondary calls, there’s a good chance no one is attending to emergency calls but the police,” Wolf said.
With the defibrillators in police vehicles, care is improved, he added.
Wolf also thinks the community would benefit if the units were placed in community hot spots and remote areas.
“Some of the big companies and First Nations communities have purchased them as well,” Wolf said. “The next step is to identify other hot spots.”
Insp. Warren Brown said the detachment had some defibrillators, but not enough for every vehicle.
“That was a gap we had in our detachment and had it not been for Arts for Hearts we wouldn’t have been able to purchase that many for the year,” Brown said.
Each unit is about the size of an iPad, is very kid-friendly and doesn’t scare the user away, Wolf said. “It has buttons and faces on it, it’s voice controlled, has a battery, plus a backup battery.”
Brown said he read a study where Grade 10 students figured out how to use defibrillators in 75 seconds without any training, then they took a group of people who had been trained and it took them 50 seconds.
“We, the RCMP are given training, but they really are meant for lay people without any medical training,” Brown added.
Wolf credited his wife Susan for making the Arts For Hearts happen.
“She’s the creative brain,” he said. “I just see a need but she makes it creatively happen.”
The Wolfs have been in Williams Lake for two years and moved from a community of 180,000 people.
“There were more ambulances available there,” he said of their former community. “The unique situation of Williams Lake is we have a town with a smaller core population, then this vast and remote population as well.”
The challenge is distributing resources, he added.