Waratah Beach Surf Life Saver Jamaica Wake instructs Di and Phil Cornwall from the Sandy Point Community Group at a recent defibrillator and CPR training session.

IN A NEW effort to engage with the community beyond the summer months, Sandy Point’s Waratah Beach Surf Life Saving Club is offering free CPR and defibrillator training to local businesses, sporting clubs and other groups.
Board director and Junior Activities coordinator at the club Natalie Ashdown, and club president Rob O’Brien recently met with South Gippsland Shire councillors Meg Edwards and Ray Argento to discuss ways for the club to be further connected with the community, particularly in the youth space.
The group also discussed community CPR skills, and Natalie says the free training sessions seemed the perfect way to achieve multiple goals simultaneously.
“We thought, ‘summer’s over, so what can we do ‘til October?’” she said.
“Our young people have a lot of skills and they’re not just for the beach. We want them to be able to broaden and develop and share them all year round by getting out and about and connecting to the community.”
Many community groups now have access to defibrillators, which are used to administer emergency treatment in cases of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), 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.
Natalie said ensuring community groups have the confidence to use the machines in an emergency could be the difference between life and death.
“It’s one thing to see a defib machine, but it’s another to know how to use it. They’re not difficult to use – they literally ‘talk you through’ the process – but it’s about giving people the confidence to pull it off the wall without hesitation,” she said.
The surf club has already conducted training sessions and demonstrations at the Sandy Point Community Centre and the Foster Rotary Club, and the Fish Creek Bowls Club has agreed to be a host venue for a session later in the year.
“If people have them [defibrillators], whether it’s at a footy club, a bowls club or anyone else, we’re more than happy to come out and show them how to use them. We’ve also got training machines we can bring along,” Natalie says.
“And it’s not just about the defibs, we also show people how to do a patient assessment and to administer CPR, which has changed a bit in recent years.”
Natalie said the training workshops are open to everyone, from children to the elderly, and have been very well received so far.
Cr Edwards is a member of the surf club and a strong supporter of its community CPR initiatives, and with the help of local residents, she’s putting together an online map showing the locations of all defibrillator machines in South Gippsland, with several locations in Fish Creek and Foster identified already.
“What we’ve worked out is that there is an official register by Ambulance Victoria, which is obviously the best place to record where defibs are, but it appears to specifically register those available to the public – mounted external to a building, rather than inside a building which would require key access.
“The Google map I’ve created is in no way intended to take away from the Ambulance Victoria register. It is simply a localised, informal way of getting an idea of where and how many there are in our region, who to contact to get access and to identify who might like training.”
If you know a group that could benefit from free CPR and defibrillator training, contact Natalie at nippers@waratahbeach.com.au
To view the map of local defibrillators go to https://bit.ly/2wPk2qS
To add to the map, email meg@megedwards.com.au including the location of the defibrillator, and whether it is internal or external/public access.