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Cardiac arrests surge to record highs – 3 ways you can help


It’s true, sudden cardiac arrest continues to be one of the leading causes of death in Australia. Sadly, the death rate stands at an incredibly high rate of over 90%.

The figures in Victoria alone speak for themselves. In the period between July 2019 and 30 June 2020, there were 6,761 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests attended – the most cases ever recorded. This was a 3.7% increase on the previous year. Of these cases, the majority (76%) happened in private residences, which meant cardiac arrests were far more likely to be witnessed by a bystander than ever before. This also means more people having to provide immediate CPR and defibrillation to a family member, a friend, or a bystander.

Performing CPR can help people suffering a sudden cardiac arrest by helping to circulate blood so it can provide oxygen to the body, brain, and other organs. But CPR alone will not be enough. A defibrillator must be applied to the person and survival rates reduce by 10% with every minute that passes if a defibrillator is not used.

Every minute counts. Early defibrillation saves lives.

There is no doubt Victoria’s cardiac arrest response times are improving year on year. However, we must continue to increase the number of bystanders willing and able to respond. This can be achieved in 3 ways:

  1. More people learning first aid and CPR – This will provide each person with the confidence and skill to act in an emergency.
  2. Improve access to a defibrillator – The more devices there are in the community, the greater chance one will be easily accessible in an emergency, no matter where you are.
  3. Register the defibrillator – By registering the defibrillator with Ambulance Victoria, it means in the event of a cardiac arrest, a GoodSAM responder will be notified of its whereabouts and they will be directed by Triple Zero operators to bring this to the patient.

1 and 3 are achieveable with community initiatives and participation, but a bystander getting immediate access to a defibrillator is far more difficult. Most public places have a defibrillator, such as sporting facilities, supermarkets and workplaces. But we need more. There should be access to a defibrillator in every workplace, every sporting club, and every public place. Unfortunately, this is a costly ambition and we cannot achieve it without your support.

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