31/08/2021 - 11:16

How 33,000 West Aussies team up to save lives

31/08/2021 - 11:16

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Western Australia is home to an unseen army of 33,000 people, trained and ready to swing into action to potentially save a life – often before an ambulance is even dispatched.

And it’s a lifesaving army anyone can join.

Called the First Responder Network, the service allows people who have completed a first aid qualification to register through an App with St John WA – the operator of the State’s emergency ambulance service.

The App allows St John to alert qualified responders when a medical emergency happens in a public place near to where they are, meaning patients experiencing an emergency can receive help before St John WA’s paramedics are even on the road. Responders are a crucial part of St John WA’s suite of services because they provide time-critical assistance to injuries and illness when patients need it most.

At just 24, newly graduated engineering student Alexander Theobald has already attended eight emergency incidents after responding to an alert on the App.

“I did a first aid course about two years ago and signed up straight away,” he said.

“I thought it was a wonderful idea and I’d love to think if I was in an emergency situation, someone else out there might be able to help me.”

Since signing up to the App, Alexander has assisted an elderly man with a head injury, and responded to an emergency incident at a football game.

Far from being nervous when responding to potentially life-threatening emergencies, Alexander said his first aid training gave him the confidence and skills he needed whenever he was called on to help.

He has also convinced his family to learn first aid and download the App, which was developed and built in-house by St John WA and launched in 2017.

Since the launch of the App responders have cared for almost 3000 people who were unconscious, 200 cardiac arrests, 100 serious allergic reactions and a range of other incidents and accidents from burns to falls.

For many emergencies, particularly cardiac arrest, the time between calling an ambulance and paramedics arriving on scene can very much be the difference between life and death. Having an experienced first aid-trained responder nearby who can activate a defibrillator can – and does – save lives. About 33,000 people die every year from sudden cardiac arrest.

The First Responder App is part of St John WA’s network of interconnected services which wrap around the Western Australian community to give people the skills and knowledge to act fast in an emergency and support their community. It also connects with our Community First Responder program by showing the 6000 locations in WA with public access Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) which are easy to use and can restart a heart as a result of cardiac arrest.

The App can be used for people who don’t hold a first aid qualification – it houses a list of first aid tips and instructions for various emergency situations as well as including real-time emergency department wait time. It’s possible to dial Triple Zero (000) from the App which provides exact GPS coordinates of the caller to the St John WA operations centre which can speed up the time it takes to confirm the location and dispatch an ambulance.

St John WA will celebrate 100 years of delivering the State’s emergency ambulance service in July next year. The service covers the biggest geographical footprint of any single ambulance operator in the world and perhaps it’s the tyranny of distance and almost a century of innovation and community spirit which has resulted in the First Responder Network.

To download the St John First Responder App, visit the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Learn more: https://stjohnwa.com.au/working-together/app

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