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These life-saving devices are everywhere. But could you find one when you need it?

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Sean Ferguson didn’t have a pulse for 11 minutes.

In the summer of 2016, Ferguson, then 23, went into cardiac arrest while playing pickup basketball with friends at the field house at Cape Breton University.

Ferguson doesn’t remember much of that day. He was a month away from his wedding. He tries to avoid thinking about how his wife might have had to plan a funeral instead. 

“I was told that for 11 minutes I was clinically dead, pronounced dead … that’s what the ambulance drivers and the doctors told my family and the boys that were there that day.” 

As he lay on the court, someone called 911 and another friend sprinted to a nearby rink to grab a defibrillator. Used along with CPR, the device’s shock helped stop Ferguson’s heart from quivering erratically — resetting it to a normal rhythm and keeping him alive. 

The Nova Scotia government is still working on ensuring people who call 911 for help during a cardiac arrest can receive directions to the nearest defibrillator.

Life-saving portable defibrillators are in schools, rinks, businesses and community centres across Atlantic Canada. But there’s a problem: Even 911 dispatchers often don’t know the locations. 1:24

In Ferguson’s case, he later found out there was an even closer defibrillator — less than 10 metres from where he collapsed. Luckily, his friends did chest compressions and were still able to bring a device to him in a matter of minutes

“In a scenario like that, you’re so scrabbly, your adrenaline is so high and your reactions may not be as composed as they normally are. For you to make one phone call and be told where it is, I feel like that is huge in being able to save lives,” he said.

A 2017 CBC News investigation found many defibrillators in Atlantic Canada are not registered with provincial authorities, and emergency dispatchers in Nova Scotia don’t even know where they are located, making it impossible to direct bystanders to nearby devices.

Since then, the Nova Scotia government has installed new software — but it hasn’t started using it. Staff are still getting rid of technical glitches, said paramedic Mike Janczyszyn, who co-ordinates a provincial registry of automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.

“We’ve encountered more delays than we’d like already … we are aggressively working toward that right now,” he said.

When it starts running, an alert will pop up in EHS’s communications centre when there’s a defibrillator within 1,200 metres of a cardiac arrest. That way, the dispatchers can tell people on the scene exactly where to find one. Similar programs have been running for years in other parts of Canada.

A newly expanded and renovated EHS dispatch centre opened in November in Halifax. The dispatchers are required to ask 911 callers if there’s a defibrillator in the area. Eventually, they’ll receive an alert notifying them when there’s one close to a caller’s address. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

The automated external defibrillator used on Ferguson is one of about 700 registered devices sprinkled across Nova Scotia.  

They’re often stationed in gyms, movie theatres, malls and rinks. Getting to them quickly is crucial when someone is experiencing cardiac arrest. 

When people go into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, their survival rate is about five per cent, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Janczyszyn said the combination of calling for help, CPR and AEDs can dramatically improve people’s chances. Chest compressions and artificial respiration keeps blood flowing, ensuring people’s organs receive oxygen, keeping them alive. 

“Every minute that passes without an [automated external defibrillator], without doing CPR, your chance of survival go down by about seven to 10 per cent,” said Janczyszyn.

Paramedic Mike Janczyszyn co-ordinates EHS’s automated external defibrillator registry. (CBC)

When someone collapses, people often don’t reach for a defibrillator because they don’t know where to find one, he said. And research shows even when people are trained, they may not do CPR, which is necessary for a defibrillator to be effective.

“There’s no liability involved with using an AED as long as you’re using it properly,” said Janczyszyn. “It actually tells you exactly what to do. The most important thing with using an AED is grabbing it and turning it on.”

Janczyszyn has been trying to ensure all the devices in Nova Scotia are included in the provincial registry so directions to them will be available in an emergency. He’s helped doubled the number of registered devices since last December.

Not all of them are considered publicly accessible and Janczyszyn estimates the number of registered devices could be less than half of the defibrillators available.

“They need to be out in the public. They don’t need to be behind closed doors or locked doors but they need to be in publicly accessible areas to be effective,” he said. 

EHS has upped its promotion and has been holding information sessions in an effort to stress the importance of CPR and encourage organizations to sign up their devices. As of November, it was possible to do so online.

It’s possible to purchase a defibrillator that is enclosed in a heated case so it doesn’t freeze in the winter and the battery doesn’t die. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

When people register, they can decide whether to list their device as publicly accessible and also opt to be “responders,” meaning they will be notified when there’s a cardiac arrest within 1,200 metres of their defibrillator.

“You could get a text message or voice call that there’s a cardiac arrest nearby and respond with your AED. That kind of eliminates some of the time as opposed to someone just being at the scene and bringing it back,” said Janczyszyn. “The more people to help you out in that scenario, the better.”

So far, 78 people have signed up. 

“We’d love to have the numbers higher but it’s based on preference of anyone who registered. Seventy-eight is a great number when you look at it. That’s 78 additional bystanders or rescuers in Nova Scotia that are willing to help,” he said.

Alyssa and Sean Ferguson on their wedding date, almost exactly a month after Sean nearly died. (Anita Clements)

After Ferguson’s close call, he spent 22 days in hospital in Halifax and Sydney.  Due to a heart condition — hypertrophic cardiomyopathy subcutaneous — a type of defibrillator is now implanted in his chest.

Two and a half years later, he’s celebrating the holidays with his wife and young son. He recommends people experiencing heart issues get blood work done and an EKG, just in case. He always keeps an eye out for the devices that saved his life. 

“I say this to people and business owners and friends, it’s just so easy to have one,” he said. “I do everything I can to be positive, upbeat and educate people.”

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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