The CPR instructional video, produced by a group called Northern City of Heroes, shows viewers how to practise their technique at home using two rolls of toilet paper and a Mason jar lid. (Photo from video)

A new video being released Jan. 1 demystifies CPR, offering straightforward explanations of how to save a life.

The video, produced by a group called Northern City of Heroes, even shows viewers how to practise their technique at home using two rolls of toilet paper and a Mason jar lid.

Taryn Davidson, a Northern Ontario School of Medicine student who graduates next year, told CTV News that Northern City of Heroes was founded by two local doctors -- Dr. Sarah McIsaac and Dr. Robert Ohle – in April 2019 with a goal of teaching people hands-only CPR.

 

"As physicians in the community, they really understood the benefit and impact of bystander CPR on improving cardiac outcomes after cardiac arrest," Davidson said.

 

"And so they put together a 10-minute presentation at Science North, and that's kind of how Northern City of Heroes started. Now it's grown to include dozens of community members."

The group includes high school students, scientists, medical students and physicians.

"And everyone is volunteering their time to train community members how to perform hands-only CPR," she said.

Eliminate barriers

The goal of the video is to help eliminate barriers for people who may want to learn how to do it, but find the idea intimidating.

"The mandate is to spread awareness and the capacity of bystanders to do CPR," Davidson said. "So we thought maybe a video or something like that would be a great way to get the word out."

The video, which will be available in English and French, runs about four minutes and will go live Jan. 1 on YouTube. Click here to check it out once it is activated.

Many people fear they will do more damage if they intervene to help someone who had a heart attack and whose heart has stopped. Davidson said the video aims to overcome those fears.

"It can be scary," she said. "And people can be afraid that they're doing it wrong or that they're going to cause harm. And so we really wanted the video to not be a technical video. We wanted it to be very clear and kind of break down CPR into something that's very understandable."

The fact that 80 per cent of heart attacks happen at home, and the fact so many people are home because of the COVID pandemic, Davidson said learning how to perform CPR is particularly important now.

Likely will be a loved one

"If you ever have to use the skill, it's likely going to be your loved one or someone that you're living with or someone that you know closely," she said. "And in those moments, seconds count."

The chance someone who has a heart attack will survive increases by 3.7 times if they receive CPR, Davidson said. And every minute they don't receive it, their chances drop by 10 per cent.

"People hesitate to perform CPR because they don't want to harm someone," she said. "But really, you can only help. And we really want to get that part of the message across as well in the video."

Since many people are concerned that doing chest compressions to get blood flowing to the brain could cause broken ribs or other issues, the video shows how to practise the technique.

You take two toilet rolls and place them on their sides on top of a Mason jar lid. You should push down just hard enough that you hear the lid click.

"The idea of the toilet paper technique was cooked up by Northern City of Heroes," she said. "It's a great way to address the barrier of in-person training, where you only a minute to practice on a high fidelity model, whereas with our video, you can kind of take the video home and practise as many times as you want using toilet paper."

Right now, just 40 per cent of Canadians who suffer cardiac arrest receive CPR before professional help arrives. Davidson said increasing that percentage would mean far more people would survive.

As for the future, Davidson said they have received funding to teach techniques to seniors in the New Year.

"I'm looking forward to where we go next," she said.