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If you live or work in rural or regional Australia and are more than 20 minutes from medical help the chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) are a less than one in 10.

 

The confronting statistics have prompted a call from the head of the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) Foundation Adam Coltzau urging rural families and agricultural businesses to consider investing in their own Automated External defibrillator (AED).

 

“If you live on a rural property having a defibrillator may be your best and only chance of surviving a cardiac arrest,” he said.

 

As part of a campaign to highlight how defibrillators can save lives the RDAQ Foundation have joined forces with St John Ambulance for Beef Australia 2018 in Rockhampton. From May 7-10 the two organisations will conduct demonstrations of defibrillators and offer a special price on defibrillator purchases and training packages.

 

St John Ambulance Queensland CEO, Alex Hutton said heart disease is Australia's No.1 killer and it takes a precious life every 26 minutes. In many people this is sudden and without warning. Sudden cardiac death happens as a result of a cardiac arrest and can happen to people of all ages.

 

There is no national registry of sudden cardiac death, but the National Heart Foundation estimates suggest around 15,000 people die unexpectedly in Australia from sudden cardiac death every year.

 

This equates to around 10% of all Australian deaths that occur every year (153,000).  Sudden cardiac death rates have not declined in Australia at the same rate as other heart related deaths.

 

“Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, no matter what their age or gender,” Mr Hutton said.

 

“For every passing minute without a defibrillator (AED) shock, the chance of survival reduces by ten percent – and with the average response time from an ambulance being 9-14 minutes, defibrillators can save lives. Without a defibrillator close by, the survival rate for cardiac arrest is somewhere between two and five percent.”

 

Dr Coltzau said defibrillators had now become more affordable and could be purchased for around $2,000, roughly the same price as a pump, a new tank, or a stock saddle.

 

“You can replace farm machinery, but you can’t replace human life. A defibrillator can save your life or the life of someone you love so it is definitely an investment worth considering if you live more than 20 minutes from medical help,” he said.

 

“Training in CPR and an up-to-date first aid kit are also critical to ensuring rural workplaces are as safe as possible and improving the outcomes for medical emergencies like cardiac arrest.”

 

Dr Coltzau said surviving a cardiac arrest hinged on knowing three things:

  1. Recognising a cardiac arrest and calling for help immediately
  2. Starting CPR early
  3. Early access to defibrillation.

 

“A defibrillator (AED) can analyse a person’s heart rhythm and deliver a shock to the heart to get it back into a normal rhythm and beating properly. The earlier an AED is applied and a shock delivered the better the chance of survival,” Dr Coltzau said.

 

“Defibrillators have advanced technology and will not let you shock someone who does not need it.  The calm automated voice talks you through each the steps in the process and some even help coach CPR.

 

“A defibrillator can save your life. There is no question about that, people just need to be aware of the risks that come with their location and know these units are now available at affordable prices.”

 

During Beef Australia 2018, the RDAQ Foundation and St John Ambulance will be offering discount packages on defibrillators and training packages.

 

St John Ambulance AED’s start at just $2,099 for the Phillips Heartstart HS1 (valued at $2,482) – the Beef Australia 2018 special offer on this AED Bundle includes the HS1 AED Unit (M50667A), AED Metal Bracket branded St John Ambulance, AED Sign and DRSABCD Action Plan poster.   

 

“Having a lifesaving defibrillator on your property gives you peace of mind and importantly the best possible chance of survival in the event of a cardiac arrest,” Dr Coltzau said.

 

Defibrillators save lives

  • Every year 15,000 people die unexpectedly in Australia from sudden cardiac death. This equates to around 10% of all Australian deaths that occur every year (153,000).
  • For young people, there are often no symptoms of SCA; this contributes to 5 Australians under 35 suddenly dying each week.
  • SCA is such a serious medical emergency that survival rates decrease by up to 10% for every minute that passes without defibrillation.
  • After 8 minutes there is little chance of survival.
  • Defibrillation using an automatic external defibrillator (AED) dramatically improves survival rates if applied in minutes.
  • Having a lifesaving defibrillator on the farm, or on the premises provides immediate peace of mind ensuring the best possible chance of survival in the event of a cardiac arrest.

 

Dr Adam Coltzau is Chair of the RDAQ Foundation and President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia. He is a rural doctor from St George in south western Queensland.

 

St John Ambulance is a self-funded charitable organisation with one dedicated purpose and vision - partnering with every Queenslander for their first aid and community social support needs, and being the leading provider of these services. For more information please go to https://www.stjohnqld.com.au/About-Us

 

CAPTION: Dr Adam Coltzau said defibrillators had now become more affordable and could be purchased for around $2000, roughly the same price as a pump, a new tank, or a stock saddle.

 

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References:
https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/sudden-cardiac-death, accessed 26 April 2018. 

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