You have three minutes to find a defibrillator in your town. Where would you start. A phone call to 000 might help as they would hopefully alert an emergency response. But there you are in Tilba, Dalmeny, Bodalla, Tuross, Broulee, Malua Bay, Nelligen, Sth Durras. Unfortunately most residents on the South Coast have no idea where to find the closest defibrillator. There is no up to date information (such as you might expect from an organization like St. John) that shows all of the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED's) on the South Coast. Imagine a phone call to 000 that can advise where the closest AED is - minutes matter. Imagine a fridge magnet on each and all of our refrigerators that offer an alternate number after ringing 000 (such as bushfire or local rescue) who can attend before a town ambulance can arrive. Such a project would be perfect for any of our community groups to initiate. Yet here we are having so many AEDs in the Shire and having no idea where they are or who to call.
A defibrillator is a life-saving device used to treat a sudden cardiac arrest, a condition that occurs when the electrical signal to the heart is interrupted, and the heart unexpectedly stops pumping. The defibrillator analyses the heart rhythm and recognises abnormalities, determining whether a shock is required.
Defibrillators will only deliver a shock when an irregular heart pattern is detected, so all you need to do it turn on the machine and it will tell you what to do through voice commands. As the leading cause of death in Australia, sudden cardiac arrests are experienced by around 20,000 people out of hospital each year, with an alarmingly low 10% survival rate.
St John Ambulance NSW says that the time-sensitive nature of a sudden cardiac arrest highlights how important having a defibrillator close by can be.
In the event of a cardiac arrest, each minute that passes without intervention – including
defibrillation – reduces the chance of survival. The combination of CPR and defibrillation is the only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest and can increase survival rates
by up to 70%. St John Ambulance NSW declared Shocktober: Defibrillator Awareness Month to remind us of the importance of knowing how to perform CPR and operate a defibrillator
Defibrillator Awareness Month is an initiative aimed at raising awareness in the community about the importance of having access to, and knowing how to use, defibrillators. Sadly however the locations to assist in 'having access' are not known yet we know, from the continued generosity of groups such as Rotary, that there are many AED's in our community. Below is the example that St John identify only 3 AED's on the South Coast
With more than 16 sudden cardiac arrests occurring in Australia each day, ensuring public access to defibrillators is key to improving survival rates.
‘St John Ambulance NSW is committed to ensuring the widespread implementation of public access defibrillators in the community,’ St John Ambulance NSW CEO Sarah Lance says.
‘We should see defibrillators in any areas where large crowds congregate- whether that’s in shopping centres, sporting grounds, concert halls, and even public transport. They need to be within 3 minutes reach of any sudden cardiac arrest,’ she adds.
‘Anyone can use a defibrillator,’ Sarah Lance says. ‘We encourage all Australians to respond to emergencies, particularly sudden cardiac arrest events, without hesitation.’
To learn how to respond in an emergency, St John Ambulance have developed COVID safe online classes to equip people with lifesaving first-aid skills. In the Defibrillation Awareness (AED) course, participants will be provided with basic knowledge and understanding to enable the use of a defibrillator in an emergency situation. The easy-to-follow online course is only $25, and takes just 30 minutes to complete.
For further information about completing a St John Ambulance first aid training course, or to enrol in an online course, please visit www.stjohnnsw.com.au