IT’S only three, short, tough years since Sue Buckman’s 19 year old son Stephen died of cardiac arrest at football training near Sunbury in central Victoria. Despite having an off-duty Mica paramedic and footy club parent, Andrew White, in attendance to administer first aid and CPR, the young man died but might have been saved if there had been a portable defibrillator unit on hand. Last Wednesday, on a cold, wet South Gippsland evening, Ms Buckman was in Inverloch helping to distribute 10 defibrillators to local clubs under the ‘Defib Your Club For Life’ program set up by Andrew in her son Stephen’s memory.
“It’s a wonderful legacy for us,” said Sue, noting that more than 400 such units had already been distributed to sporting and community clubs around the state, and now into other Australian states. “People say that it’s not going to happen to anyone young, that these units should go mainly into bowls clubs and senior citizens clubs but that’s not our experience. “Swan Hill has lost three players in the time since Stephen died and they approached us for one. “And we’ve already saved quite a lot of people now, the latest one two weeks ago at Pakenham.” Of course locals will recall that bowlers from the Korumburra Bowls Club used one of the defib units to save fellow bowler David Goodridge of Outtrim after he collapsed on the green in July last year. Last Wednesday night, Sue was the special guest of the Inverloch Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank which was using $25,300 of its community-generated funds to hand out 10 defib units to local clubs and groups. Speaking at the event, branch manager at Inverloch, Jackie Laurie, said the Inverloch Community Bank had followed up on the initial presentation of four units to the Tarwin Lower Bowls Club and football-netball club, and both the bowls and football-netball clubs at Inverloch with another round of presentations.
“Not including what we’ve put into advertising and promotions, this round of $25,300 is on top of the $270,000 put back into the local community since the bank started in Inverloch in 2006 – $100,000 of which went to this wonderful facility here, the Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Clubrooms.” Among the clubs and groups on hand to receive their units from Alan Gostelow, chair of Inverloch’s Community Bank were: the South Gippsland Yacht Club, the Tarwin Lower Community Health Centre, the Outtrim Hall, the Venue Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, the Leongatha Golf Club, the Inverloch Warrawee Senior Citizens, the Inverloch RSL, Inverloch Rotary Club, Inverloch Tennis Club and the Inverloch Cricket Club.
Get on board
Mr Gostelow said the Inverloch Community Bank also had its own defibrillator unit available for community use, not because it feared people might get a shock when they saw their bank statements! He said the unit was available for loan to community groups and sporting clubs such as local schools when they were holding events. The Inverloch Community Bank also has a marquee for loan and can also provide a portable Eftpos machine for clubs and groups holding registration days or when collecting other payments. “Inverloch is part of the Community Bank family Australia wide now and has already given out well in excess of $270,000 to the community. “That includes the $100,000 contribution to the surf club’s building project which is why we say to community groups and individuals to get on board with us,” Mr Gostelow said. Regional manager for Bendigo Bank, Rob Francis, congratulated the Inverloch Community Bank Branch and the local community for supporting the Defib Your Club for Life campaign in such a significant way.
As well as rolling out the units to another 10 local organisations, Inverloch Bendigo Bank is going to make sure the clubs’ members get the training they need to go with it. “We have a trainer here tonight who’ll be making contact with each of the groups about coming out to take some training sessions with their members in the next few weeks,” Mrs Laurie said. She also thanked Ms Buckman for supporting the night. “Sunbury is a pretty big place, bigger than many regional areas anyway but when Stephen died it still had a big impact on the local community. “He’d just got an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic and recently got his licence,” Ms Buckman said. “When Andrew told us what he wanted to do, to establish the Defib Your Club for Life program and raise money to distribute more of these units throughout the community in Stephen’s memory, we were really pleased.” One in 1000 people have an underlying cardiac condition that they are unaware of and for every minute that elapses after collapse, the chance of survival falls 10 per cent. According to Mrs Laurie: “This piece of equipment is the most important piece of equipment any club or group can have. Anywhere where large groups gather, lifesaving benefits can come from access to automatic defibrillators for use in emergency situations; for example local beaches, swimming pools, cricket grounds, football, netball, bowling clubs, shopping strips and other organisations.”