Parksville Arena 2 – Sudden Cardiac Arrest 0

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

It’s always great to hear stories of those who survived a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Unfortunately they are few and far between. For an out of hospital SCA, the chances of survival are reduced to a dismal 5 percent.

But don’t fear, a treatment is out there! The use of an AED with CPR within the first three minutes of a cardiac arrest can increase the individual’s chance of survival by up to 75%.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

All it takes is a little preparation and training. If you live or work in a high risk area (see old post), you should have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Program. With an AED program in place you are increasing the chances of survival for anyone who has an SCA. 

Luckily, most people will never be put into a position where they have to grab an Automated External Defibrillator and save a life, but if it happens, you want to be prepared. 

Staff at a Parksville BC, arena never imagined it would happen to them but they were ready when the time came.

Over the past three months the arena staff used their CPR and AED training not once, but twice. In two separate incidents staff had to fetch their on-site AED and administer a life-saving shock.

The first took place on September 21st when an arena patron collapsed on the ice while playing hockey. With the help of a bystander, staff reacted quickly and efficiently calling 911 and performing ongoing CPR.

“Their efforts during the critical time before emergency services arrived, without a doubt, saved a life,” said Tom

Osborne, the General Manager of Recreation and Parks for the Regional District of Nanaimo.

The patron, Bernie Diakow underwent heart by-pass surgery and now is home after recovering for nine weeks at Victoria General Hospital.

Fast-forward almost two months to December 7th, another hockey player collapsed at the arena. The staff again retrieved their first aid kit and the AED. The AED was then used and CPR continued until a pulse was detected.

“The wife of the patron was told by the ambulance attendants and hospital staff that if CPR and the AED were not administered when it was, her husband would not be with us today.  We are pleased to say this wife will now likely have her husband home for Christmas,” said Osborne.

The staff at the arena were not lucky, they were prepared. Are you?


Preventative Health – A New Approach

Recently, our founder at Iridia, Dr. Allan Holmes, gave a speech at the Fraser Health Quarterly Business Meeting.

Led by Dr. Nigel Murray (Fraser Health’s CEO), the meeting brought together more than 250 managers, directors, executive directors, physicians and other senior executives.

Preventative Health

What was their agenda? – Introduce enhanced health through a new preventative health approach.

Preventative Health

Preventative Health is a key priority for Fraser Health and the BC Ministry of Health. Together, their goal is to establish a foundation of involvement through community partners to spearhead preventative health measures.

“Our health promotion and prevention services are provided by a team of professionals committed to the health and well-being of communities throughout Fraser Health.

Among them are public health nurses, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, community nutritionists, tobacco reduction coordinators, dental hygienists and others who provide community based services with a population health focus.

These services focus on health screening, health assessment, referral, early treatment, and building public health capacity through community development and strategic partnering.” – Fraser Health

How is Iridia involed? Dr. Holmes and his team have been working with community partners to embrace a proactive health approach that lines with Fraser Health’s vision, “everyone a champion for better health.”

Specifically, in conjunction with Fraser Health, Iridia is working with the Surrey Fire Department in the development of their HomeSafe program.

Preventative Health


The HomeSafe Program is the creation of the Surrey Fire Service. It was developed by Fire Service members who provided suggestions and recommendations to reduce the number of private dwelling fires in the City of Surrey, as well as other ways to mitigate health risks.

The four key areas HomeSafe focuses on are:

  • Free Home Safety Inspections
  • Fire-Setter Intervention Program
  • Child/Seniors Welfare and Human Trafficking Training
  • Fire Prevention Week / Public Displays

Each section deals with many unique social, demographic and awareness issues. For example, senior welfare can involve identifying indicators of abuse or neglect.

View the HomeSafe Brochure:

Preventative Health

Fall prevention is also a key element in the HomeSafe program. Falls are by far the leading cause of seniors’ injuries and injury-related hospitalization in Canada. Falls cause pain and, for many, lead to a move from home to a care establishment. They often cost seniors their independence and quality of life as well as represent a huge cost to our health system. However, most falls incurred by seniors are preventable.

With Surrey Fire, Iridia has identified many recommendations for reducing fall related injuries among seniors.

A prevention strategy could include:

  • Minimizing changes in surface types
  • Securing rugs with non-skid tape as well as carpet edges and avoid throw rugs
  • Removing oversized furniture and objects
  • Placing phone extensions on each level of the home with emergency numbers posed
  • Adding electrical outlets to avoid overloading breakers and tripping on extension cords

Prevention strategies such as HomeSafe are key for communities seeking to reduce health incidents, which otherwise, could have been avoided through proactive measures.

“Bringing this all together into a comprehensive program like this will undoubtedly create greater fire-awareness and modify current behaviours to encourage personal safety for young and old,” said Surrey Mayor, Dianne Watts.

Stand Up Against Plantar Fasciitis


Plantar Fasciitis

A new University of British Columbia study is exploring alternatives to traditional plantar fasciitis treatments. Led by Jack Taunton, a professor of sports medicine, the study touts prevention rather than reactive treatments.

Jack Taunton knows all about sore feet. Since the ‘70s Jack has run 62 marathons, or roughly 200,000 kilometres. Jack has experienced the intense pain and discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis. “I had burning pain in the middle part of my back heel,” he recalls.

Plantar Fasciitis

His own experiences with plantar fasciitis have heightened his desire to learn more about the debilitating condition. His research aims to not only focus on those who run marathons, but anyone who spends long periods of time standing. Teachers, nurses and construction workers are especially vulnerable to plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis affects the plantar fascia; the thick connective tissue that supports the arch on the bottom of the foot. It extends from the heel to the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia contributes to support of arch of the foot by acting as a sort of rubber band, where it undergoes tension when the foot bears weight. 

Through accumulative abuse the fascia can become inflamed, which makes a simple task like walking difficult and painful. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, plantar fasciitis accounts for 15 percent of all adult foot complaints.

Plantar Fasciitis

Jack is midway through the WorkSafe BC funded study, which is testing a multi-element exercise program as a preferred early method of treatment for plantar fasciitis and the more advanced plantar fasciopathy. Plantar fasciitis refers to the foot pain caused by ligament inflammation, while plantar fasciopathy refers to deterioration of the ligament itself. Plantar fasciitis generally last for three to four weeks, at which point it becomes plantar fasciopathy.

As part of the study, Jack is working with 320 individuals whose plantar fasciitis was triggered from standing for long periods of time at work. “We are very interested in whether chronic plantar fasciopathy could be improved with an exercise program,” he comments. The idea is to strengthen the ligament itself, reduce overall pain and prevent the condition from worsening over time.

Currently the standard treatment comes in the form of cortisone injections. These injections can lead to downtime in the workplace and high claim costs for employers. Jack believes exercise may be a viable alternative treatment, which may negate the need for injections in some cases. Once micro-tears start forming in the fascia, injections are not effective. “Cortisone inhibits inflammatory response but cannot repair degeneration,” Jack explains.

“Can exercise help heal those micro-tears? If we heal the tear, will function improve and go away?”

These are questions Jack wishes to answer with the WorkSafe study. Previous research from a smaller study Jack performed in 2009 suggests that exercise can significantly reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

Jack suggests an exercise routine consisting of dynamic and static stretches as well as balancing exercises. It is his hope to show that the use of a pragmatic exercise regimen can be as effective as or better than a cortisone injection at relieving pain.


The findings could affect a variety of industries, especially health care workers who tend to stand on their feet for twelve- hour shifts or more. “If workers can experience a significant reduction in pain while at the workplace, they will be more productive, easier to work with, and, of course, happier,” says Jack.

As an employer of EMS personnel, Iridia is interested in plantar fasciitis and potential remedies of the condition. At times, Iridia paramedics can be on their feet without rest for many hours. Recently, we profiled plantar fasciitis in our quarterly paramedic newsletter. It is our hope we can bring more light to this condition within our workforce. We encourage our employees to stretch, as it can not only reduce pain, but also prevent it.

At the workstation, or on the job, a few minutes of stretching every day can help relieve stress, relax tense muscles and re-energize your day. 

TED – Three Worlds Coming Together.

Technology – Entertainment – Design (TED)

Recently our team at Iridia experienced the worlds of TED at our first ever TEDLive streaming event from February 28th to March 2nd. For four days, we had instant access to the world’s most inspiring voices.

Wait wait wait, let’s back up… Not in the know? Are you asking yourself “what is TED?” If so, you’ve missed a little step. Please read “When is a name more than a name” then head on back.


Back? Great, it’s time to tell you about our experience with TED 2012.

First, we needed to find a place to show the event live. We decided on our library room, or as the Iridia staff like to call it, “the Zensation Chamber.”

The “comfy couches” of the Zensation chamber.

Our library gave us just enough room for a few staff to sit back in our comfy chairs, put their feet up and watch TED in its full glory projected onto the wall.

Personally, my favorite talk was an eye opening talk by Brian Greene, which, also happened to be the first talk of the event. For 18 minutes Greene gave us a tour of the multiverse, a mind altering concept of the universe(s) in which we live.

From the discovery of expanding space to the mystery of string theory to a fuel so efficient it spawned multiple “big bangs.” I was hanging on every word.


Universes packed together in the “multiverse.”

It wasn’t all downhill from there though; TED 2012 was full of exciting content. Each talk was unique and gave the staff at Iridia insight into worlds they otherwise would be unaware of.

As TED says, “depending on the speaker and the topic, there could be: blizzards of images, new uses of music, extravagant use of under-used senses, intricate choreography between speaker and screen, new ways of involving the audience, breakthroughs in animation, and intense, campfire-style storytelling.

With TED, you never know what surprise is around the corner.

Here’s what some of our staff had to say:

  • “I thought it was great! I got to see things I normally wouldn’t have been able to.”
  • “I had never heard about TED before. Now that I have seen it, I have been missing out!”
  • “TED was a really great experience. I enjoyed learning about new subjects.”
  • “My only gripe is that I wish the talks were longer!”

All in all, it was an illuminating four days around the office.

Why did Iridia choose to stream TED 2012? Well, we are huge proponents of innovation; in fact, it is one of our 8 core values. We believe in a little thing called “living our values.” So, when the idea came forward to stream the world’s most innovative talks from our office, we jumped on the opportunity. It proved to be a great way to bring staff together, let their imagines run wild and have them discover fresh ideas.

As a team, we look forward to seeing what delights TED 2013 has to offer.

I leave you with this exceptional TED talk:


A Diet Pop a Day = A Hospital Stay

Many people turn to diet soft drinks in an effort to cut their calorie intake and prevent weight gain or other illnesses such as diabetes, which is a risk indicator for heart disease. 

Diet Pop

A study from the American Stroke Association claims to have found a link between diet pop and cardiovascular disease. The same link was not seen in those who consumed regular soda.

The findings are based on 2564 adult volunteers who were asked to complete a questionnaire about their eating habits, including their pop consumption.  The researchers then monitored the health of the participants for about nine years.

The results revealed that people who drank at least one diet pop a day had a 48% higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke than those who reported no soda consumption. Those who drank regular soda in similar quantities faced no greater or lesser risk than those who avoided all pop.

Diet Pop

This isn’t the first study to raise questions about diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners have a long history of receiving the hairy eyeball from food safety advocates. Some studies have indicated sugar substitutes may disrupt the normal digestive process causing the body to retrieve and absorb more sugars from the gut.

Other research has suggested that diet-soda drinkers faced an elevated risk of metabolic syndrome, a collection of disorders that places suffers at increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers allow that the study has a few weaknesses that make if far from definite: it lacks information on the specific drinks other than pop that people consumed and it didn’t look in any great detail at the other factors in their volunteers’ lives (e.g. genetics and exercise habits).

It’s possible that people who gravitate to diet soda share other lifestyle quirks that put them at risk of heart troubles.

“If our results are confirmed with future studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages,” said the lead author of the study Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

When asked why she thinks the findings came out the way they did, Dr. Gardener shied away from questions of biology and stuck to the numbers. “As far as I know, we don’t have any clear evidence for a mechanism. To say anything at this point would be speculation.”

Until more research is done, Dr. Gardener said, it’s too early to urge people off of diet drinks. But “if consumers want to be conservative, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no nutritional value in diet or regular sodas. And certainly the health consequences of regular soda – sugar-sweetened beverages – have been well documented. So cutting either out of your diet is not going to leave you with nutritional or vitamin holes.

If you really want to delve deeper into diet drink debate. Watch this YouTube clip about diet soda and weight gain:


Remember there’s always fruit juice. Or water.

Innovation Corner – Camtasia


Every month, the whole Iridia team gets together or Skype’s in for a staff meeting. During the meeting, we discuss a variety of topics from our diverse organization. For the past 11 months we have added a new topic to the agenda – The Innovation Corner.

Innovation is one of our eight core values at Iridia, values we strive to live every day. It’s one thing to say “hey, innovation is a corporate value of ours,” but it’s another to live it.

We are always keeping our sharp eyes on the lookout; finding creative ways to fit pieces together. In order to “fit pieces together,” we need to do things more efficiently and, if possible, with the use of new tools.

A message from our vice president – what is the Innovation Corner?

“The Innovation Corner is a brief (5 min.) section of the agenda dedicated to the introduction of a story, a tool, a concept, or anything else that might spur on innovation within our team.  Anyone can lay claim to the Innovation Corner in upcoming meetings, and thereby use it to share an innovative find they have come across.

This effort has already brought forward tools that have been put to immediate use in our business operations.  In seeing how these insights have made a difference for us, we’ve decided to take time out and share them with a broader audience.”


This past Monday, we profiled a unique tool called Camtasia. Camtasia is a program that allows you to screen capture video with ease.

Capture, edit, save and then publish. Camtasia has it all.

Have you ever tried to walk someone through a troubleshooting process over the phone? It’s painful. With Camtasia, capture a video of the steps yourself, edit the video, save it and then send it to user, or upload it to YouTube.

Capturing, editing and publishing video can sound scary, but with Camtasia it’s easy. No training required to use this program. In no time you will be creating interactive videos for product demo’s, creating video for your blog, or troubleshooting staff from afar.


Interested? Head over the TechSmith and give it a 30-day trial run, for free.

Stay tuned, as we will be updating you with all the unique and innovative tools we use around Global.

Practice Your Life-Saving Skills Today

Every day, thousands of people suffer Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). 

Would you know how to help?

Now, thanks to the Medtronic Foundation’s Save-A-Life Simulator, you can see first hand what to do as a bystander witnessing a SCA.

Practice Your Life-Saving Skills!

Life-Saving Skills

At Iridia, we are always trying to do our best to promote life-saving efforts to fight SCA. This new simulation from Medtronic is one of the best training tools we have seen out there. We highly recommend you try it out.

Head over to and put yourself in the shoes of a rescuer!

Fighting Sudden Cardiac Arrest with a Chill

The chances of surviving SCA can be as little as 3 percent, depending on your location and access to EMS. In most cases early defibrillation is the only treatment.

Even if an individual survives a trip to the hospital, their bodies are still in a very critical state. “After we start the heart again, about 60 per cent of people who get admitted to hospital will end up dying as a complication of the cardiac arrest. That’s because other important organs are injured when blood flow stops,” says Steven Brooks, at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.

Fighting Sudden Cardiac Arrest

For this reason, two hospitals in Toronto are experimenting with therapeutic hypothermia, a deep freeze medical treatment aimed at increasing a patient’s chance of retaining neurological function after suffering SCA.

The goal is to lower the patients’ temperature by roughly five degrees Celsius for a 24-hour period. The cooling is achieved through a combination of ice packs placed around major arteries, a chilled saline solution and temperature controlled blankets.

Fighting Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Dr. Brooks said this cooling treatment is significantly more effective than some other traditional treatments.

One study published in 2002, in the New England Journal of Medicine has demonstrated improved neurological outcomes for the use of therapeutic hypothermia on survivors of cardiac arrest. The study shows a decrease in the mortality rate with patients who have been cooled (41 percent) compared to patients who were not cooled (55 percent).

Despite the positive results, therapeutic hypothermia currently still isn’t a very popular option in Canadian hospitals. It is fairly easy to establish, but takes a very coordinated effort to make it happen.

Fortunately, in Dr. Brooks’ opinion, the effort is well worth it. He has created a dedicated on-call Post Arrest Consult Team (PACT) that will be able to manage therapeutic hypothermia services. Eligible patients who are brought into both Sunnybrook and St. Michael’s hospitals in Toronto will receive a potentially lifesaving deep freeze.

Kelvin Au is one individual who credits therapeutic hypothermia with his survival. In 2009, the 33-year-old was rushed to a hospital after collapsing on a basketball court. The doctors were able to re-start his heart, but he did not regain consciousness. Afraid that his neurological functions were deteriorating, the doctors transferred him to St. Michaels for experimental hypothermia treatment. At that time very few were practicing therapeutic hypothermia at St. Michaels, and the PACT team had not yet been created.

“The doctors had been pessimistic, but they said this cold treatment was the best shot at his recovery,” said his wife, Liz Au.

Fighting Sudden Cardiac Arrest

The treatment ended up saving Mr. Au’s life, but he still suffers side effects of his collapse. “This is definitely one of the things that saved my life,” Mr. Au said. “I now have my life almost back to normal, but I still can’t remember about two weeks of my life around when the heart attack happened and I have short-term amnesia.”

With the recent successes, Dr. Brooks hopes therapeutic hypothermia will eventually lead to application at more hospitals throughout Canada.

Canadians or Americans – Healthcare Happiness

Earlier studies (Blendon et al. 1990) have shown the majority of Canadians are content with their healthcare system, while their neighbours in the United States are not.

Healthcare Systems

Why quote a study from 1990?! It couldn’t possibly be relevant now; it seems so very long ago – 22 years in fact! Much has changed in that time. In 1990 you would be hard pressed find someone who knew what the “internet” was.

Well, we have an update for you from a “more recent” study.

Current Healthcare Happiness

The questions is, in the time, when so much has changed in the world, are Canadians still happy with their healthcare systems while Americans are dissatisfied with theirs?

The short answer is “yes.”

The long answer is a resounding “yes.”

As it turns out, Canadians are still mostly satisfied with their healthcare, while Americans are not. The new study shows an average positive score of 63.4 percent for Canadians, ranging between 66.9 percent for Nova Scotia and 61.7 percent for Alberta.

None of the US states surveyed managed to score higher than any of the Canadian provinces surveyed. The top scoring US state of Maryland scored below Alberta at 60.2 percent.

View the full breakdown

22 years later, Canadians have reported they enjoy greater confidence in their healthcare system than Americans do… although there is clearly room for improvement on both sides.

Read the study  – New Healthcare Confidence Index

With the recent health care developments in British Columbia and throughout the country, the Canadian healthcare system is only getting better. Have a look at these exciting projects:

Surrey Memorial Hospital Expansion and Redevelopment

Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre

Welcoming the new Medical Coordinator at the JPOCSC

On April 1st, 2012, our president and founder, Dr. Allan Holmes assumed his role as the Hospital Medical Coordinator at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC) in Surrey, BC.


Medical Coordinator at the JPOCSC

In this position, Dr. Holmes is responsible for providing leadership and coordination for the medical staff practicing in the different Programs functioning in the facility. He will also ensure medical staff activities at the facility are consistent with the overall facility and program direction.

We are certain that Dr. Holmes will serve well in this role and will contribute in a significant and meaningful way to FH’s vision of delivering the best health care possible.