Victoria has seen the use of Public Access Defibrillators (PAD) increase 11 fold in the 11 years since they were first introduced by Ambulance Victoria, helping to save the life of one person every six weeks.
The first study to fully assess the PAD program’s success has found that patients in cardiac arrest in a public place were 62 per cent more likely to survive if a non-medical professional or bystander was the first person to defibrillate them, shocking their heart back into a normal rhythm.
In 2002, Ambulance Victoria established the PAD program and placed 96 AEDs across 22 of Victoria’s busiest locations, including Melbourne Zoo, Federation Square, city loop train stations and Melbourne Airport.
Ambulance Victoria’s Emergency Medical Response Coordinator Ewan Humphrey said that the PAD units can be used by any member of the community with, or without formal training.
‘It’s important to know that attaching a defibrillator to a person who is not in cardiac arrest won’t harm them. If you are in doubt, attach the pads, turn the machine on and follow the verbal prompts instructions. If the person needs a shock, the unit will tell you,’ Mr Humphrey said.
The report also shows:
- For every minute delay in a patient being defibrillated, the chances of survival reduce by nine per cent.
- Every person who suffered a cardiac arrest at Melbourne Airport and was given a shock via a defibrillator, received it from a bystander.
- 462 people suffered a cardiac arrest at a sporting or recreational complex and required immediate defibrillation. Of these, 76 people were defibrillated early by a bystander.
- Patients who are defibrillated in public spaces by an AED before emergency services arrive in Victoria are more likely to survive and leave hospital. More widespread availability of AEDs and greater awareness in the community of their role, may further improve survival rates.
Dr Karen Smith, Ambulance Victoria’s Manager of Research said that bystanders can save lives.
‘Bystander CPR and defibrillation are an integral part of the Chain of Survival. Increasing the number of people willing to help a person in cardiac arrest is vital to further improving survival rates,’ Dr Smith said.
Ambulance Victoria’s 4 Steps for Life Plus (4SFL+) program teaches anyone in the community how to perform CPR and use an AED and it’s free to community groups.
The 4 Steps for Life Plus – easier than you think:
Step 1 Call 000 (Triple Zero) for an Ambulance
Step 2 Open the airway
Step 3 Pump the chest (30 pumps)
Step 3 Breathe mouth to mouth (two breaths)
Plus Automated External Defibrillator (AED) if available