February is Heart Month


Consider these statistics:

If someone’s heart stops and nothing is done, permanent brain damage starts within four to six minutes.

For each minute defibrillation is delayed, survival rates decline by 10%.

In 2000, Heart Niagara helped to establish the Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program for the region, in conjunction with Niagara EMS.

Public Access Defibrillation programs focus on coordinating the placement of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in strategic locations throughout the community where there is a chance someone could suffer a cardiac arrest.

Since the program began, Heart Niagara has helped to place approximately 680 AEDs in buildings and public locations across the region, including all secondary schools.

We had an opportunity to speak to Justin Boutilier, who was one of the youngest Canadians to earn CPR and AED defibrillation.

Today, Justin is a 4th year PhD candidate in Operations Research with Prof. Timothy Chan at the University of Toronto.

We thought that it was fitting to share a recent conversation with Justin where we discussed his connection to Heart Niagara, his current research, how our organization contributed to his success and his recommendations for Heart Month.

Justin’s dedication, enthusiasm and insight are truly inspiring.  Heart Niagara’s staff and board wish him many years of great achievements!

What is your relationship to Heart Niagara?

justin-head-shotMy relationship with Heart Niagara began through my father, a Niagara Falls firefighter, who was actively involved in CPR and defibrillation training programs. At the age of 10, I became one of the youngest Canadians to earn certification in both CPR and defibrillation. Myself and another Niagara Falls boy, Daniel, used our age and keen interest to demonstrate CPR and defibrillation practices to local businesses. Our aim was to show that CPR and defibrillation can be performed by nearly anyone – if a child can do it, so can you!

Current and future research?

I am currently a 4th year PhD candidate in Operations Research with Prof. Timothy Chan at the University of Toronto. My research focuses on response optimization for emergency medical services in both high and low income countries. In the low income setting, I am working on a project that aims to reduce ambulance response times in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. In the high income setting, I am working on a project that leverages drone technology to deliver defibrillators to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients in Southern Ontario. Looking ahead, my career aspirations are to become a Professor at a Canadian University where I can continue my research in healthcare optimization and analytics. 

How as Heart Niagara contributed to your current success?

Heart Niagara provided the foundation for my current success by exposing me to CPR and AED training at a young age. This early exposure to life saving procedures fostered my interest in healthcare, and the encouragement I received at a young age continues to be a major motivator for my work.

How do you recommend that people celebrate/mark Heart Month?

For me, Heart Month is a great motivator to keep exercising throughout the winter months, especially when the days are short and staying engaged in physical activity can be challenging. Heart Month can also serve as a reminder to locate nearby AEDs from your work or school in case of an emergency, and to recertify your CPR/AED training.

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