14 Feb, 2017

Saving a life is ‘Shockingly Easy’ - Automatic defibrillators for public use in the City of Adelaide

City of Adelaide, supported by SA Ambulance Service and the Heart Foundation SA, will be installing automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) for public use in various locations throughout the city and North Adelaide.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a significant public health issue and one of the leading causes of death in Australia.

Automatic defibrillators can dramatically increase the chance of survival when used in the first three to five minutes of cardiac arrest. Council cares about the wellbeing and resilience of our residents and city visitors; this is one step that Council can take to support that wellbeing.

City of Adelaide currently has defibrillators for use by staff at the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, Town Hall, Central Market and the Golf Links.

Two defibrillators will be installed and available 24 hours a day in Rundle Mall and Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga. Heart-shaped sculptures by artist Pat Welke will highlight where the devices are in Rundle Mall and Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga.

The defibrillators will be protected by smart technology. When the cabinet door opens a recorded message will play asking the rescuer to call triple zero (000) and take the device to the patient. If the door is accidentally opened the person will be asked to close the door immediately. When the device is removed from the cabinet it will be tracked to enable its easy return after use.

Further defibrillators will also be installed and available for public access during operating hours at the City and Hutt Street Libraries, the North Adelaide Library and Community Centre, the Box Factory and South West Community Centres, and Council’s Customer Centre.

City of Adelaide Councillor Phil Martin, who initiated the project, said that having more devices throughout the city could help save lives.

“People shouldn’t be scared of using one as they come with verbal instructions and will only deliver an electric shock to the heart if necessary. If you see someone in trouble, be brave and give it a try. You could end up saving someone’s life.

“Automatic defibrillators are becoming increasingly common in places of mass public gatherings such as shopping centres, sports stadiums and cultural venues as well as higher risk locations such as swimming pools and fitness centres,” said Councillor Martin.

“These public locations were selected based on statistics from SA Ambulance Service on places that attract mass public gatherings and so increasing the likelihood of there being someone in attendance who may suffer a cardiac arrest.”

Ms Imelda Lynch, CEO Heart Foundation SA, said, “Unfortunately, most people with cardiac arrest will not survive. Every week more than 280 Australian families will lose a loved one to sudden cardiac death - that’s 41 people every day”.

“By recognising the warning signs, calling triple zero and applying an automated external defibrillator as quickly as possible, the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest increase. By having more publicly accessible defibrillators, we hope to save lives in the city,” Ms Lynch said.

Public access defibrillators can shock the heart back into a normal rhythm during cardiac arrest emergencies saving lives at the press of a button, said SA Ambulance Service CEO Jason Killens.

“Automated externals defibrillators can be used by anyone, won’t hurt anyone and are shockingly easy to use, raising the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest in a public place from less than 30 per cent to around 80 per cent,” he said.

“The machines have easy step-by-step instructions which talk you through what to do. With research showing that patients suffering a cardiac arrest and receiving defibrillation from a public access defibrillator have significantly higher chances of survival to those who don’t, it’s easy to see why we welcome the placement of these defibrillators.

“The most important thing to remember is to call triple zero and our emergency call takers will talk you through everything you need to do over the phone until an ambulance arrives, such as performing CPR.

“We know the precise locations of these AEDs so, if one is nearby, somebody can be sent to retrieve it while CPR is occurring and ambulance clinicians are on their way to provide critical care.”

Scott Mosen had his first heart attack playing touch footy at 28. Young, fit and healthy, a heart attack was the last thing he expected. Six years later he had a second heart event in Japan, and now has a permanent internal cardio defibrillator.

“It’s wonderful to see City of Adelaide, SA Ambulance and the Heart Foundation working together to improve access and awareness of AEDs in the city.

“I would encourage anyone who lives, works or studies in the city to visit cityofadelaide.com.au/shockinglyeasy to learn more about this great initiative.”

Simple education sessions are being offered to demonstrate how the defibrillators work and how simple they are to use, with the aim of increasing the willingness and confidence of members of the public to assist during a cardiac arrest. Times and locations of the sessions can be found at cityofadelaide.com.au/shockinglyeasy.

For more information on cardiac arrest, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/sudden-cardiac-death

To learn the warning signs of a heart attack, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au/warningsigns

For more information

Paula Stevens