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WELCOME TO THE JUNE EDITION OF FIRST IN FIRST AID!

The dog days are just beginning, and Ontarians are relishing in every ray of sunshine with which Mother Nature blesses us. The arrival of summer - officially beginning on June 21st - inspires excitement amongst us with the prospect of more weekend getaways and evening excursions. We are quick to string together plans with our friends and family and take advantage of the warm weather. After all, summer does not last long in Canada!

No matter how enthusiastic you are about summer's approach, you should never let your health and safety take a back seat to your adventures. Failing to reflect on your well-being amidst back-to-back activities puts you and your loved ones at risk. Luckily, we have made it easy to maintain your health and protect your family during these first days of summer. All the information you need is packed neatly into this edition of First in First Aid. So kick back with a tall glass of iced tea - or a cold beer if that's your thing - and read on before you soak in the sun this summer!

Summertime

In this issue:

National Health and Fitness Day: The sun rises before you wake, setting later and later every night. What will you do with your extra hours of sunlight? Many Canadians choose to spend their summer days getting fit and fostering healthy habits that they can sustain throughout the coming year. It is an ideal time to integrate more physical activity into your routine - the warmer weather facilitates participation in a wider variety of sports and fitness activities. At St. John Ambulance, we encourage you to capitalize on this opportunity and improve your health and fitness this summer. To celebrate National Health and Fitness Day, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to start your fitness journey on the right foot! READ MORE

Stroke Awareness Month : Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada, affecting more than 62,000 people across the country each year. For every passing second without emergency treatment, the chance of experiencing permanent brain damage jumps. Due to its prevalence and the time-sensitive nature of stroke, the Heart and Stroke Foundation designates June as Stroke Awareness Month. Throughout the month, we encourage you to learn how to prevent and recognize stroke. The more people know, the more lives can be saved. READ MORE

World Blood Donor Day : It is estimated that half of all Canadians are fit to donate blood, yet only 1 in 60 donated blood last year. The lack of blood donations is an even bigger problem worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that only 0.46% of people in low-income countries donate blood - not nearly enough to accommodate for the many who need it. To raise awareness about the importance of blood donations, the World Health Organization and many supporters observe World Blood Donor Day every June 14th. This year, we encourage everyone to donate blood if they are fit to do so - your contribution could save a life. Learn how you can help. READ MORE

Summer Road Safety: Whether you spend your summers lounging on the beach or exploring some of Ontario's picturesque provincial parks, one thing is for sure - you will be spending many more hours on the road. It does not hurt to forget your worries while you relax on your summertime excursions, but you should never let your guard down when you are behind the wheel. Ontario roads are only as safe as you make them, so it is prudent to drive defensively regardless of the season. Unsure if you remember all those good driving habits you learned in driver's school? We can help with that. Use these summer driving habits for a safe journey this summer, no matter where your destination may be. READ MORE
NATIONAL HEALTH AND FITNESS DAY - JUNE 1SThealth-fitness

The sun rises before you wake, setting later and later every night. What will you do with your extra hours of sunlight? Many Canadians choose to spend their summer days getting fit and fostering healthy habits that they can sustain throughout the coming year. It is an ideal time to integrate more physical activity into your routine - the warmer weather facilitates participation in a wider variety of sports and fitness activities. At St. John Ambulance, we encourage you to capitalize on this opportunity and improve your health and fitness this summer. To celebrate National Health and Fitness Day, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to start your fitness journey on the right foot!

The Inactivity Crisis

Participaction recommends that Canadian adults should exercise for at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate to vigorous intensity. Unfortunately, only 18% of Canadians are satisfying these requirements! The other 82% are at risk of preventable weight-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Clearly, the overall standard for Canadian health has room for improvement. To help motivate more Canadians to live healthy, active lifestyles, the National Health and Fitness Day Act was passed in 2014. Its purpose? To challenge Canada to become the Fittest Nation on Earth!

Want to get involved? There are a variety of community events across Ontario to help you and your peers start a healthy, active lifestyle on the right foot!

Family Exercising

Exercise Your Way

Fulfilling your daily physical activity requirements is feasible when you break it up into short bursts of 10 minutes or longer. For example, adding moderate-intensity activity - the kind that makes you sweat a little without becoming out of breath - is as simple as integrating a few healthy habits into your daily routine.
  • Consider alternative modes of transport to get from point A to point B. Choose the one that offers the most physical activity without being a major inconvenience.
    • Public transport: Ditch the car and take advantage of your local transit system. Briskly walking to and from stations adds a quick workout on-the-go!
    • Cycling: Is your destination only a short drive away? Consider dusting off your bicycle! You will get your heart pumping while saving money - no gas or transit fares required for this commute! Remember to follow the rules of the road to stay safe as you ride.
    • Walking: If your local grocery store is just down the street, walking might be an option for you! A quick pace could have you working up a sweat, and carrying your purchases home adds a bonus workout for your arms.
If driving is the only feasible option for you, consider parking farther away from the entrance. It will force you to walk a little more than usual.
  • Climb the stairs. The benefits of choosing the stairs are far greater than the few seconds you save on an escalator or elevator. After a few weeks, you may even find yourself walking up the stairs more easily than you did when you started!
  • Take your kids to the park. Bring a ball to play soccer with them, or start a game of tag. Time flies when you are having fun, so you can log a lot of exercise! Inclement weather? Go to your local recreation centre and take advantage of their facilities.
  • Explore your neighbourhood on your lunch break. Eating your lunch in the open air is far more satisfying than munching on a sandwich at your desk. Search out new lunch spots or hunt for local boutiques, and you may log many more steps than you thought you could!
  • Exercise while you watch television! Get off the couch and jump rope while you catch up on a favourite TV show, or do jumping jacks during the evening news report. You can even make a game out of it to switch things up. For example, do 10 sit-ups every time there is a scene change, or do a 30-second plank during every commercial break.
  • Go for an evening walk after dinner. This is particularly appealing during the summer, when the weather acts in your favour. It will help you digest your meal and clear your head, all while getting a little more exercise.
Still haven't logged enough physical activity? Consider...
  • Investing in a gym membership. Whether your goal is to build muscle or burn off fat, your local recreation centre or gym will have all the equipment you need to get in shape. Do not be afraid of the larger, more complicated-looking machines! Plenty of trainers circulating the gym should be happy to help you learn.
  • Joining a sports team. Leagues are always looking to recruit new members. Playing a sport is a fun way to exercise, and you might just make some new friends while you are at it. Research online to see how you can join a local league.
Any bit of physical exercise that you can integrate into your life will help you ward off disease and increase your quality of life! Learn more about how you can improve your lifestyle and increase awareness about the importance of fitness on National Health and Fitness Day on its official website .
STROKE AWARENESS MONTH stroke-awareness

Your brain is one of the most important parts of your body. It is your control panel, coordinating everything from muscle movement to hormone balances. Like any organ in your body, your brain needs blood with a healthy supply of oxygen to operate. If it does not receive the blood it requires, it will begin to shut down, prompting widespread organ failure. The terrifying condition is responsible for 28 out of every 1000 deaths in Canada, and was the third leading cause of fatality nationwide in 2016. We refer to it as stroke.

Living a healthy, active lifestyle reduces your chances of suffering a stroke, but it does not eliminate your risk entirely. Anyone can end up amongst the 62,000 plus Canadians who suffer from a stroke every year. After its onset, time is of the essence. For every passing second without emergency treatment, the chance of permanent brain damage jumps. Due to its prevalence and the time-sensitive nature of stroke, the Heart and Stroke Foundation designates June as Stroke Awareness Month. Throughout the month, we encourage you to learn how to reduce your risk and recognize stroke. The more people know, the more lives can be saved.

Stroke Awareness

The Basics of Stroke

The term "stroke" refers to the sudden lack of blood flow to the brain. Often, the flow is obstructed due to either a blockage or a break in a blood vessel near or within the brain. Strokes caused by blockages are referred to as ischemic - the more common form of stroke. When the stroke results from a broken blood vessel, it is called a hemorrhagic stroke.

Only a doctor can confirm and treat instances of stroke. Since strokes are time-sensitive, it is thus prudent to seek medical attention as soon as you notice the signs or symptoms.

Are You At Risk?

Anyone can suffer from a stroke, but some are at a higher risk than others. A combination of risk factors determines your chances of experiencing the life-threatening emergency. Stroke prevention begins with education about these risk factors and how you can minimize them.

Any medical condition that gets between you and your cardiovascular health increases risk of stroke. Manage the following risk factors using the suggested precautionary measures to protect yourself. Even if you do not suffer from the subsequent medical conditions, we suggest adhering to the suggested preventative techniques to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Medical Condition Suggested Precautionary Measures
Hypertension. Colloquially referred to as high blood pressure, hypertension puts added stress upon your cardiovascular system. Just as your tires can pop if you overfill them, your blood vessels are more likely to burst when you have hypertension.

Avoid foods high in sodium. Although there are other causes, when you consume salt, it reduces your kidneys' ability to remove excess water from your blood. The added water contributes to your high blood pressure. Opt for the low-sodium versions of your favourite snacks for an easy fix.
Atherosclerosis. This condition occurs when plaque builds up in your cardiovascular system. Don't understand how this increases your risk of stroke? Consider a clogged drain, where the water can't flow freely, like the drain, plaque builds up in your arteries and blood vessels and like your drain, it can become blocked and this can cause a rupture. Referring to the drain analogy again, consider what happens if you accidentally drop a ring into your drain. The ring has a higher chance of getting stuck in the narrow confines of a clogged drain. Similarly, your chance of suffering from blood clots and vessel blockage jumps with atherosclerosis.
Avoid saturated and trans-fats. Ingredients with these fats contain lots of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which contributes to plaque creation. Minimizing their prevalence in your diet will lower your bad cholesterol levels and slow the creation of plaque in your cardiovascular system.
 
Quit smoking. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol removes its dangerous LDL counterpart from your bloodstream. Smoking destroys these molecules while further constricting your blood vessels, deteriorating your cardiovascular system over time.
Diabetes. Your cardiovascular system is responsible for delivering a variety of nutrients to all your cells, including sugar. However, your blood sugar levels must remain within a narrow range to avoid destroying your organs and blood vessels. Usually, insulin regulates your blood sugar to protect your body. When you have diabetes, the body cannot produce enough or cannot effectively use insulin. The associated high blood sugar levels increase your risk of stroke, whether you suffer from the type 1, type 2 or gestational variety.
Take insulin or medications as prescribed to manage your blood sugar levels if your doctor prescribes it.

Moderate your sugar intake. Control your levels by consuming a safe amount of sugar every day. Monitor your blood sugar levels through the day to judge how you should vary your sugar consumption accordingly.
 
Exercise. Individuals with type 2 diabetes can exercise to alleviate their symptoms. You use up fuel when you exercise, lowering your blood glucose levels as your muscles burn it. Physical activity also makes insulin more available so that it can efficiently regulate your blood sugar. 

There are a variety of other medical conditions that increase your risk of stroke, including sleep apnea, hyperthyroidism and arrhythmia. You can learn more about them from the Heart and Stroke Foundation . Additionally, you should exercise stroke prevention more frequently if you identify with any of these irreversible or genetically predetermined risk factors:
  • Age. Though you can suffer from a stroke at any age, your risk increases as you grow older. A 2014 survey revealed that stroke prevalence increases sharply after the age of 55.
  • Family medical history. Those with relatives who have suffered from a stroke have a higher risk of suffering from the same condition at some point in their lives.
  • Heritage. If your background is South Asian, Indigenous or African, you have a higher risk of experiencing a stroke.
Stroke Recognition: Every Second Counts

With every passing second after the onset of a stroke, a sufferer's chance of permanent brain damage increases. Hence, recognizing the signs early, is key. A stroke often only affects one side of the brain, limiting symptoms to one side of the body. The following tests rely upon this common characteristic to help determine whether or not someone is suffering from a stroke. If the results confirm your suspicion, dial 9-1-1 as soon as possible.
  • Ask the casualty to close his eyes for 15 seconds, and then open them. If one pupil shrinks faster than the other in response to the light, suspect a stroke.
  • Ask the casualty to smile. If the resulting facial expression is lopsided, they may be suffering from a stroke.
  • Ask the casualty to say a simple sentence. If their voice sounds slurred, or they otherwise have difficulty speaking, a stroke may be to blame.
In such a troublesome time, you may panic and forget these tests. If you do, simply remember to act F.A.S.T. ...

F.A.S.T Method

Stroke Treatment

Only a medical professional can treat a stroke, so getting to a hospital is imperative. However, while you wait for emergency services to arrive, there are some things you should and should not do.

DO NOT give the sufferer anything to eat or drink. Muscle weakness in the throat could cause choking.

DO comfort the casualty. If they are responsive, help them into a seated position and reassure them that help is on the way. If unresponsive, place them into the recovery position. Keep the airway open, and monitor breathing and circulation until emergency personnel arrive.

DO NOT give the casualty acetylsalicylic acid. Commonly referred to as Aspirin, the drug acts as a blood thinner. Although this may help during an ischemic stroke, it could be fatal in a hemorrhagic one.

DO be prepared to administer CPR if the casualty goes into cardiac arrest.
WORLD BLOOD DONOR DAY - JUNE 14THdonor-day

When you stand up quickly, you may experience momentary light-headedness. This phenomenon is called orthostatic hypotension. It happens when your blood pressure does not adjust fast enough to supply adequate blood to your brain in response to a change in body position. Since your blood carries oxygen around your body, its absence in your brain momentarily suffocates it, causing brief dizziness.

Clearly, your blood plays an important role in your life. Without it, your cells would not be able to breathe! Though most Canadians have enough blood to stay healthy, many require transfusions or donations to live. In fact, the Canadian Blood Services estimate that more than half of all Canadians will require blood at some point in their lives! As such, donors are always needed - their blood is often the difference between life and death for someone who needs it.

It is estimated that half of all Canadians are fit to give blood, yet only 1 in 60 donated last year. The lack of donations is an even bigger problem worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that only 0.46% of people in low-income countries donate blood - not nearly enough to accommodate for the many who need it. To raise awareness about the importance of blood donations, the World Health Organization and many supporters observe World Blood Donor Day every June 14th. This year, we encourage everyone to donate blood if they are fit to do so - your contribution could save a life.

Blood Donor Day

Who collects blood in Canada?

The Canadian Blood Services manages blood donations nationally. The organization was created in response to the tainted blood tragedy of 1998, when over a thousand Canadian blood recipients were infected with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Even more contracted the hepatitis C virus, shattering confidence in the way blood was handled across the country. Since then, the Canadian Blood Services has restored trust nationwide through a thorough rebuilding of the system.

Am I fit to donate blood?

A variety of factors dictate whether or not you are eligible to donate blood, not limited to your age, lifestyle and even medical history. You can check whether you can donate using the Canadian Blood Services' online donation eligibility quiz . Don't worry if you fail - you can still help even if you cannot give blood. The Canadian Blood Services accept monetary donations that fund donation clinics and research initiatives - every bit helps!

What does the letter in my blood type represent? What do the positive and negative subtypes mean?

Your blood type defines what kind of antigens you have. A-type blood has A-type antigens, and B-type blood has B-type antigens. AB-type blood has both, and O-type blood doesn't have any.

Why is this important? Antigens are sugars and proteins found on your cells. Your body is only accepting to antigens that are native to your body - if it detects foreign ones, it will treat them as a threat and produce antibodies to defend itself. The antibodies will cause your blood to clot, eliciting a potentially life-threatening reaction.

Clearly, this system defines which blood types are compatible. If you have...
  • A-type blood, you can receive A-type and O-type blood because you only have A antigens.
  • B-type blood, you can receive B-type and O-type blood because you only have B antigens.
  • AB-type blood, you can receive any blood because you have both A and B antigens.
  • O-type blood, you can only receive O-type blood since they do not have A or B antigens.
The positive and negative subtypes refer to a special protein - referred to as "D" - that sits on the surface of your red blood cells. If you have it, you have a positive blood type. If you do not, you have negative-type blood. This defines another rule of blood type compatibility that coexists with the aforementioned restrictions:
  • People with negative blood can only accept negative blood types.
  • People with positive blood types can accept all blood types.
What are the universal acceptor and universal donor blood types?

The universal acceptor blood type is AB+, and the universal donor is O-. The designation corroborates the blood type compatibility rules detailed above. People with AB+ blood can accept blood from anyone because they have A and B antigens, plus the D protein. Conversely, people with O- blood can donate blood to anyone since it doesn't contain A or B antigens, nor does it have the D protein. This explains why O- type blood is always in demand - anyone can accept it!

What is a rare blood type?

A and B antigens are only some of the 600+ known antigens. Some people have extremely rare combinations of antigens that make it difficult to find a matching donor. The only way to provide blood for these individuals is if others with similar rare blood types donate too - that's why you should consider donating if you have a rare blood type!

Where can I donate blood?

There are only 35 permanent donor centres in Canada, but over 4,000 mobile donor centres tour the country to make giving blood easy. You can find your nearest donor centre through the Canadian Blood Services' donor portal .

What should I do to prepare my before donating blood? What should I expect after giving?

You also need to be hydrated and nourished before you donate blood! Eat something lean in the hours before your donation, and drink a bottle of water just before you give. Snacking on chips or another salty food right before you donate will help you retain the water.

In a few cases, donors experience muscle weakness and fatigue after donating. This reaction stems from blood loss. Blood contains iron inside hemoglobin molecules, so donating blood lowers your iron count. If these adverse reactions persist or bother you, consult your doctor. He or she may prescribe you iron supplements to replenish your blood.

Want to learn more about blood donation? Visit the Canadian Blood Services' website for more information. You can also keep an eye out for blood type clinics popping up in your neighbourhood. They are great places to learn more about how you can help. Plus, you can learn a little more about your blood type too!
SUMMER DRIVING SAFETYdriving-safety

Whether you spend your summers lounging on the beach or exploring some of Ontario's picturesque provincial parks, one thing is for sure - you will be spending many more hours on the road. It does not hurt to forget your worries while you relax on your summertime excursions, but you should never let your guard down when you are behind the wheel. Ontario roads are only as safe as you make them, so it is prudent to drive defensively regardless of the season. Unsure if you remember all those good driving habits you learned in driver's school? We can help with that. Use these summer driving habits for a safe journey this summer, no matter where your destination may be.

Summer Driving

  1. Always make sure every passengers is wearing a seatbelt. In Ontario, it is illegal to ride in a vehicle without a seatbelt. If you are caught driving without a seatbelt, you can receive two demerit points and a hefty fine ranging from $200 to $1000 dollars. The same penalty applies if you are apprehended for transporting passengers under the age of 16 without a seatbelt, or if your vehicle has a broken seatbelt. However, the monetary inconvenience is incomparable to the injury that passengers may suffer if they are not wearing a seatbelt at the time of a car accident. Making sure that all your passengers - yourself included - are securely fastened is an easy way to restore peace of mind and safety before you begin your journey.
  2. Always store hard objects in the trunk, away from the cabin. In an accident, even a small toy can become a lethal projectile. It is simple physics - the weight of an object multiplied by the speed of your car reveals its force during an accident. For example, a package weighing a pound may seem harmless to keep in your front seat. However, in a 60 mile per hour accident - almost equivalent to the legal speed limit on a 400-series highway - the package will exert a force of 60 pounds upon anything it hits. If you have kids in the car, this risk is especially high. To protect yourself and your passengers, store all hard objects in the trunk, or securely fasten them in a seat.
  3. Always drive sober and alert. Driving requires your full attention at all times. If you have indulged in alcohol or cannabis before hitting the road, your judgement and sense of perception will not be sufficient to confidently operate a motorized vehicle. Similarly, a lack of sleep can impair your reasoning ability. If you have an inkling that you may not be mentally fit to drive, do not risk it. Instead, call a cab, have a friend give you a ride, or simply stay put until you are mentally capable to get behind the wheel.
  4. Always make sure the car is vacant before leaving. The temperature inside an enclosed vehicle can skyrocket to dangerous levels in as little as half an hour, even if the heat is bearable outside. Leaving kids and pets inside cars puts them at risk of heatstroke, hyperventilation, and even death. Do a quick sweep of your car every time you leave to avoid a fatal mistake.
  5. Always obey the rules of the road. The government puts laws and regulations in place to keep you safe. Breaking them is foolish, and puts your life and the lives of other drivers at risk. Follow speed limits, obey street signs and share the road with other users to reach your destination safely every time.
Safe Summer Driving

Trouble on the Road: Emergency Response

You are driving to your cottage with your family when you arrive at the scene of a car accident. After safely pulling over and making sense of the scene, it is clear that the crash has just occurred, and no one has begun administering first aid. You call 9-1-1, but what should you do while you wait for emergency services?

In a life-threatening situation like this, you could be the strongest link in the sufferers' chain of survival. Follow these steps to help address an emergency on the road to the best of your ability. Do not be afraid to act - the Good Samaritan law will protect you all across Ontario.
  1. Survey the scene. If there are hazards (eg. fire, wire, gas, glass or dangerous individuals) that you cannot safely remove or eliminate, stay away and wait for emergency personnel. If not, continue.
  2. Assess any casualties. If they are conscious, reassure them until emergency personnel arrives. If they fall unconscious, open their airways and monitor their breathing and circulation. Be prepared to administer CPR if necessary.
  3. Assume that the individual has a neck injury - support the casualty in the same position in which you found him or her. Pay close attention to the head and neck.
  4. Make sure you account for all the casualties. Some may have been thrown from the vehicles, or wandered away.
  5. Ask bystanders for help if available. If possible, ask one to search for an automated external defibrillator (AED).
For added protection, stow an Emergency Preparedness Car Kit in the trunk and a Compact First Aid Kit in the glove compartment. Follow these simple driving principles, and you can rest easy no matter where you choose to travel this summer.

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THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

At St. John Ambulance, we take pride in our ability to deliver affordable safety education and first aid training in our communities. Our efforts would not be possible without the time and donations from our 12,000 plus volunteers who have been by our side. We take this opportunity to express our gratitude for all our volunteers and donors - their unwavering support is key to our efforts across Ontario. Every contribution counts, no matter how big or how small. Your help takes us one-step closer to achieving our goal of creating safer communities across our province!

Do you want to help create safer communities in your area? Visit your local St. John Ambulance branch to learn more about how you can volunteer or donate. Alternatively, you can sign up or donate online! Just click on this link - we would appreciate it!


Calm Lake
Alex Canning | St. John Council for Ontario | (416) 923-8411 | alex.canning@on.sja.ca | SJA.ca
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