Western Australian businesses and community groups are being called upon to help save lives by having on-site defibrillators registered for public access in a cardiac emergency.
St John WA says local businesses and community groups have made strides in recent years, with more than 1,000 defibrillator locations registered per year for the past two years, but more can be done.
“Every year around 33,000 Australians lose their lives to cardiac arrest. But one thing putting downward pressure on that number is the early administration of CPR and defibrillation. A person’s chance of survival can be dramatically improved when they receive support within five minutes,” said Sally Simmonds, Community Manager, St John WA.
That’s why St John is facilitating the widespread availability of defibrillators across the community under its Community First Responder program. Defibrillators, or “defibs” for short, are devices that send an electric pulse to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat in the case of cardiac arrest.
“Ideally we want to have a registered defibrillator within three to five minutes of a victim of cardiac arrest – that’s what we’re striving for,” said Mrs Simmonds “That means having them registered in workplaces, organisations, cafes, schools and community groups throughout the suburbs and city. Cardiac arrest can happen anywhere and the precious minutes before an ambulance arrives really count.”
Of course, access to emergency response is not a matter of luck. In fact it’s something St John has been working on for years so that members throughout communities are equipped to take the necessary action that could save a life. Important to this is knowing where nearby resources – like defibrillators – are located.
The First Responder program maintains a centralised register of defibrillators and trained community “first responders,” who can be called on in an emergency to provide rapid response. When a bystander to a cardiac arrest calls 000, an ambulance is dispatched. The St John triple zero call centre will also check if a trained first responder is nearby, and can advise the caller where to find and retrieve the closest defibrillator. The first responder carries out CPR and if necessary, applies the defibrillator until the ambulance arrives.
“The program works because we recognise there are businesses and groups with defibrillators on hand throughout the community, and there are also people with first aid skills in those businesses. Many of those organisations will be much closer to an incident than an ambulance,” said Mrs Simmonds. “Organisations can do a huge community service simply by taking the initiative to register their devices.”
When companies and community groups participate in the St John Community First Responder program and register their defibrillator location, the information is made available to St John in the first instance. Participants can also choose to make the location of their defibrillator available to the broader public via the St John First Responder App. This app can be downloaded by any member of the public, and features everything required to sign-up as a First Responder, register the location of a defibrillator, or – during an emergency – call an ambulance and locate the nearest defib.
According to St John, over 5,200 Community First Responder locations and some 6,500+ defibrillators have been registered. Of these, close to 2,000 are available to the community 24/7.
St John hopes that more defibrillators will become available for public community use via it’s St John Heart Grant Initiative, which will offer more than 1,000 subsidised defibrillators to not-for-profits.
Mrs Simmonds encourages more organisations to contribute to what she describes as a “huge asset” to the community.
“I would absolutely urge any organisation that has a defibrillator on-site to register it on the Community First Responder network. And if they don’t have a defibrillator, consider getting one – it really is life-saving. It’s the easiest community service they’ll ever do.”
For workplaces or groups unsure of whether they’ve got the necessary first aid resources for their organisation, St John offers Safe Assessment to help create first aid ready workplaces, based on the size and risk level of that organisation or group.
To find out more about the St John First Responder program or to register, visit stjohnwa.com.au or contact the First Responder Team on email@example.com or (08) 9334 1418.