Red Cross Queensland is encouraging regional and remote communities to invest in a defibrillator.
Red Cross Queensland is encouraging regional and remote communities to invest in a defibrillator.

Life saving machine vital in regional communities

REGIONAL communities are being encouraged to purchase a “life saving machine” to increase the survival rate of heart disease in the outback.

Queensland’s Red Cross is raising awareness of the importance of having Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in rural and remote areas, since many towns in regional Queensland don’t have access to them.

According to John Kelly of the Heart Foundation, 80 per cent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in our homes.

He also says deaths from heart disease are 60 per cent higher for people living in rural and remote areas of Australia than for those living in metropolitan areas.

Red Cross regional training lead in Queensland, Janie McCullagh, says that high statistic is often from people not getting the care they need quick enough.

“In rural and remote areas where people are often hours away from hospitals, having a defibrillator can save a life.”

She said the damage caused by cardiac arrest was nearly irreversible after 10 minutes without intervention, a wait time that is generally impossible in regional areas.

“People don’t understand why they’re so important,” Ms McCullagh said.

“The delay in getting accessibility to advanced care is critical – ambulance’s, hospitals. If you have a defibrillator it can be used straight away and make a difference during that wait time. Potentially saving a life.”

Red Cross regional training lead in Queensland, Janie McCullagh.
Red Cross regional training lead in Queensland, Janie McCullagh.

The devices were developed to save lives of people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, often in public places.

Even untrained bystanders can use these devices in an emergency.

Ms McCullagh said while heart attacks were the most common reason for use, other cardiac arrest triggers were strokes, electrocution, haemorrhages and more.

“Something has happened and it’s causing the heart to not be able to function properly, the electricity of the heart has been affected,” she said.

“We’re focusing on heart attacks but there are other reasons. Some of the fittest people could have underlying issues in their body they just don’t know about.

“And sometimes it just comes out of the blue.”

Red Cross is encouraging regional communities to purchase an AED to store in a public space where it’s available to community members.

Ms McCullagh says a great central location is the local pub, post office, community hall or shopping centre.

“One is better than nothing, but it would be best to have some scattered in areas where people can access them,” she said.

“These machines last a heck of a long time, so it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.

“If I was living in a regional area I’d really hope it would be a priority.”

She also recommends having one on site at farms and rural properties, to prevent the delay from emergency services.

One of the stories she remembers was when someone was going for a walk and suddenly went into cardiac arrest.

A lady found the person and sent her husband to a nearby bank where she knew there was an AED.

The persons life was saved and the only reason was because that lady knew there was a defibrillator nearby.

“It can happened any time, any place and to any one. By a bit of knowledge of where it was, a life was saved.”


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