Retired nurse’s plan to save thousands of lives
"THE MORE public access to defibrillators there is, the more people will survive heart attacks."
Only 18 and just starting her career in the city, Kate Emery was left without a mentor when her mother died of a heart attack.
The disease reared its ugly head a second time, many years later, when she noticed her husband began suffering from regular bouts of "indigestion" before suffering cardiac arrest.
Now retired, the former nurse and teacher of First Aid and CPR is determined to put a stop to preventable deaths.
Kate was training at hospital after being "thrown in the deep end" at her new job, when she heard the tragic news her 52-year-old mother had died.
"It was a stage of my life when I really needed support and she wasn't around," Kate said.
"Looking back, I didn't just lose my mother, I lost the family that was - it no longer existed.
"Dad was in his mid-50s and he couldn't help me because he was grieving so badly."
Though she doesn't recall noticing any warning signs before her mother had the heart attack, Kate knows her mother had tried to seek medical attention.
"She and dad were on holiday at a tiny village in Victoria - there was no doctor there but she went to see an old retired doctor - he didn't know what it was or why she was so unwell," Kate said.
"It was four days before she went to hospital and she died the next day."
Kate's mother's treatment was delayed but urgent medical attention may have saved her.
"The time for defibrillation when someone has a cardiac arrest is the determiner of if they survive or not," she said.
"For every minute they're waiting for one to arrive in an ambulance, they chance of survival drops by 10 per cent.
"If the ambulance takes 15 minutes to get there, there isn't much chance they're going to get the heart back into a normal rhythm."
For Kate, the solution is obvious.
"In some European countries, defibrillators are out in the public, like in phone booths," she said.
"Shops have them, the airport has them - anywhere a lot of people gather, they usually have them."
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