THE COMMUNITY of Poowong now has 24/7 access to an automated external defibrillator (AED).
It’s thanks to a joint effort of the Poowong and District Country Women’s Association (CWA), Strzelecki Lions Club, Korumburra Ambulance Auxiliary, and the Lang Lang Community Bank.
The public access defibrillator, stored in a wall mounted cabinet out the front of the Poowong Post Office, can be used to administer emergency treatment in cases of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
Team Leader of the Lang Lang Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Rosie Keane helped organise the purchase of the AED and cabinet with around $3000 donated from the CWA, Lions Club, Ambulance Auxiliary and Community Bank.
Ms Keane says AEDs are easy to use and maintain, and with quick intervention, can dramatically increase a patient’s chances of survival from less than five per cent to as much as 70 per cent and higher.
“Virtually anyone with little or no experience can use an AED. After an ambulance has been called and CPR administered, it’s just three steps: turn the machine on, place the pads on the patient’s bare chest, and shock the patient. The machine tells you how to do everything, and you just follow the prompts.
“Early intervention is the key to survival in cardiac arrests. For every minute that passes, the chance of survival reduces by 10 per cent. Generally speaking, if there’s CPR and defib in progress before an ambulance arrives, that patient has a much higher chance of surviving.”
The CERT recently organised a community education day in Poowong where schools and members of the public were instructed on how to use an AED.
“We don’t want to have to use it [the defibrillator] but in a rural area like this, we don’t have an ambulance on our doorstep.
“So, the idea is, you educate everybody in the community and they all know how to use it,” Ms Keane said.
“It’s all about the chain of survival. Educating people, getting them to learn how to call an ambulance or send for help, start CPR, get a defibrillator on board, and shock the patient.
“Then the ambulance will arrive and assist with more CPR, more shocking if need be, drug therapy and then hopefully the patient will make it to hospital.”
Poowong’s AED is also linked up to the new GoodSAM app, which, following a triple zero call, alerts trusted first responders (such as off-duty paramedics, medical professionals, other emergency responders, and members of the public with appropriate first aid training) within five kilometres of a patient in cardiac arrest and tells them the location of the patient and the nearest defibrillator.
Poowong and District CWA president Dianne Crawford said the public access AED is a “really, really good thing” for the area.
“We’re so lucky to have this in the town. There are a lot of older people in this area and we’ve got the pub just across the road [from the Post Office] and people coming from out of town.
“A lot of bike riders use these roads, so it’ll be great for them to know the closest place to go if they get stuck. There are a couple of defibrillators in town already but they’re both locked up. This one’s public access: anybody, anytime.”
Members of the public are reminded to return the defibrillator to its cabinet after use. The cabinet will not be locked but it is fitted with an alarm and monitored by surveillance cameras at all times.
Defibrillator in heart of Poowong