Jump-starting a life saving cause

Grant Gichard was pitching for a fast pitch team at Lions Park in Penticton when  he collapsed on the mound in May of last year.

The healthy athlete had suffered sudden cardiac arrest, a condition in which the heart unexpectedly stops beating.  When it happens  blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs.

“I climb, snowboard, play rugby and am a sports first responder, who has gone through all the CPR training, and then I had a sudden cardiac arrest at age 43,” said Gichard, who works as a physiotherapist.

The condition usually causes death if not treated within minutes. In situations where the person is not witnessed they are likely to die. The survival rate increases if someone gets early CPR and defibrillation.

In Gichard’s case, the first baseman was a volunteer fireman and the  shortstop was a personal trainer, and within minutes they started CPR. Soon after, he was administered shocks from a defibrillator, which sends an electric  shock to the heart to try and restore its normal rhythm.

He has since made a full recovery and  considers  the CPR and automated external defibrillator, AED, instrumental in saving his life.

Now his goal is to get the AEDs  into as many fitness clubs, medical clinics, schools and businesses as possible, starting here in Penticton.

To get the effort going he has teamed up with two doctors Dr. David Kincade, his cardiologist, and Dr. David Cleveland  to find ways to introduce the devices  into the community.

Currently individuals or teams entered into the Penticton Ramada Elevator Race  can collect pledges that  will contribute toward purchasing an AED for installation at locations identified as high traffic, therefore making them high risk.

Lyndie Hill of Hoodoo Adventures,  the race organizers, said they are happy to support the effort.

“Being that Penticton is such an athletic community, having access to AEDs all over the city is a great cause,” she said.

Gichard, who participated in the challenging race last March, intends to do so again. He will partner with Cleveland to raise money to install an outdoor AED at Lions Park.

The initiative known as Elevate for AEDs is administered by The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, making all donations over $20 eligible for charitable donation tax receipts .

“For me,  it’s a little way to do something and to give something back via a community event ,” said Gichard. “Everyone we talk to says this is a great idea. We need more AEDs."

To learn more about the fundraiser and the race, coming up in March of 2013, go to www.elevateforaeds.com or visit the Hoodoo Adventures website.

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