Heart and Stroke gets zombie-fied

The Undeading kicks off effort to save lives

The Undeading kicks off effort to save lives

Heeeaarts! (shuffle, shuffle) Heeeaarts! (moan).

The Heart and Stroke Foundation has tapped into the zombie zeitgeist in a new CPR awareness campaign that officially kicked off Thursday afternoon at Toronto’s Dundas Square.

At the heart of the campaign is a three-minute, Hollywood-calibre video that sees Toronto transformed into a post-apocalyptic wasteland overrun by zombie hordes.

Conceived and scripted by Agency59 and shot by Canadian movie writer and director Vincenzo Natali (Splice, Ginger Snaps, Cube) the nearly three-minute short film opens on a terrified woman trying to escape the walking dead only to go into cardiac arrest when finally cornered in an alley.

Following a twist ending, the video concludes with the tag “CPR makes you undead” before driving viewers to a dedicated website, TheUndeading.ca. A 15-second teaser video being shown on TV, digital out-of-home and cinema pre-roll is also driving people to the site.

Mark Holland, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Toronto-based director, health promotion and public affairs, said that because Natali, production company Cartilage and FX company Alter Ego all donated their time, more than 90% of a spot that would have ordinarily cost “well in excess” of $1 million was defrayed.

“We ended up being way below cost on this thing,” said Holland. “We got a phenomenal project for next to nothing.”

Holland said that market research indicated that people under the age of 35 would be most willing to learn and perform CPR. The campaign is intended to engage a younger demographic that the Heart and Stroke Foundation has overlooked in previous CPR awareness campaigns, he said.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is deploying automated external defibrillators (AEDs) throughout Ontario, but the public needs to know how to perform CPR to make the program effective said Holland. “The reality is that they’re really just a box on the wall without people knowing how to perform CPR,” he said.

Ontario currently has a save rate of between 5-6% for people suffering a cardiac incident said Holland. That’s well below some cities such as Seattle, where ongoing public education efforts have pushed the save rate north of 16%.

Achieving a similar save rate in Ontario would mean that an additional 1,000 lives across the province – and as many as 166 in Toronto alone – would be saved every year, said Holland.

“Every second that goes by the likelihood of someone surviving diminishes, so it’s so essential that bystanders be part of that process until EMS arrives,” said Holland.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is holding a series of training events throughout the next month, and will also attempt to set a Guinness World Record for mass CPR and AED training with a mass event scheduled for Oct. 25 at Canada’s Wonderland. The organization hopes to have more than 7,900 people participate, breaking a record set in Singapore in 2011.

The organization has also partnered with the Toronto Zombie Walk, which will see some of the approximately 10,000 participants hand out information brochures to bystanders.

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