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home : education : schools October 3, 2015

8/27/2013 1:16:00 PM
Promoting health awareness
Marsha Marr and T.J. Johannsen took Penny Kristovich’s blood pressure last week. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
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Marsha Marr and T.J. Johannsen took Penny Kristovich’s blood pressure last week. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about one in three U.S. adults - an estimated 68 million people - have high blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sisters-Camp Sherman fire district promotes health awareness in the community. Every third Tuesday of the month, Sisters fire district volunteers set up a blood pressure screening clinic in Sisters Bi-Mart.

"Our goal is to improve the quality of health throughout our community through awareness and public education," said Sisters Fire Chief Roger Johnson.

"We encourage folks to have their blood pressure checked as they walk into the store. We give each person a blood pressure log card with their blood pressure recorded on the inside so they can come back each month to compare," said volunteer Marsha Marr.

The blood pressure screening includes resources and materials to educate the public on the dangers of high blood pressure.

T.J. Johannsen from Redmond helps Marr with the blood pressure clinic in Bi-Mart once a month.

"I was a deputy fire marshal in Bend for almost eight years," Johannsen said. "I retired last October, but decided to volunteer for Sisters-Camp Sherman district since April. I love prevention way too much to completely retire. The blood pressure clinic has been well received by the community."

High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don't realize they have it.

"It's important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. This clinic is a great way to do just that," said Johannsen.

Last month Yvette Chandler from Sisters walked into Bi-Mart and had her blood pressure taken on the first day of the Sisters fire district blood pressure screening. Chandler's blood pressure was elevated above the normal range.

"I have hereditary blood pressure problems but I was really surprised to find it was that elevated," Chandler said. "I went to my family physician the next day and found out that one my medications was causing the problem. I wouldn't have caught it so soon if I hadn't gone into Bi-Mart and had my blood pressure checked. Thank you to the Sisters Fire district volunteers!"

Sisters Fire District has distributed three automated external defibrillators (AEDs) within the community thanks to a gift from Sisters Country Prepared and Ready, presented by Bill and Cindy Rainey.

An AED is a portable electronic device that can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest.

"We even have an AED device to loan for free for anyone in the community that is putting on an event or social function," said Johannsen.

In mid-September the fire district will be offering free classes for five fire district auxiliary volunteers to be trained to become cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED instructors. They in turn will offer free classes to the community in the near future.

"Saving lives really takes a holistic approach," said Chief Johnson. "Having folks trained to save lives in the community is prevention through education; it's the missing component. We need rapid access to AEDs and community members trained in CPR. We are doubling our efforts in prevention, education and public-access AEDs while maintaining exceptional emergency response capabilities."

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