Developing Heart Smart Rural Communities

Developing Heart Smart Rural Communities

The pressure on paramedics and ambulance services has become acute in 2021, mostly because people living in our cities and rural towns across the country are requiring critical care as a result of deferred medical attention during the COVID-19 pandemic in each state. Fear of contracting COVID-19 meant that many people decided to forgo regular check-ups or visits to hospitals for fear of contracting the virus as a result. This means that health services, hospitals, and paramedic support are now under enormous pressure to manage the surge in demand.

Empowering Rural Communities to Help Save Lives

Some rural communities in remote (and some not-so-remote) locations are being visited by paramedics to encourage local communities to develop self-help support systems in the event of delayed ambulance response times in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). More than 25,000 Australians each year die from SCA – and ambulance services across the country are on a mission to reduce this figure.

Recently, a street of residents living along a rural dirt road in Red Hill South (on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria) were gifted a free defibrillator from a generous local benefactor, along with a training session run by Ambulance Victoria (AV). This session helped residents along the street to develop their skills as well as their confidence in using CPR and a defibrillator in an emergency.

This gift of a defibrillator and community training was critical because the street is far away from any paramedic depot, and the area had been highlighted by AV as needing to develop a community support plan in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest.

The photo shows the defibrillator mounted on a front fence in the street and is available 24/7 to the local community. It has also been registered with AV, should their paramedics ever need quick access to a local device.

Free Training on How to Use a Defibrillator

The residents learned that there is only a very short window of time to activate a successful response to a sudden cardiac arrest, generally between 6-8 minutes. The time taken to run to collect the defibrillator and return to the victim is short, and the chance of successful resuscitation diminishes with each minute.

As a result of this excellent training session, the benefactor has gifted further defibrillators for this remote area, to be placed as 24/7 publicly accessible devices where they are most needed. In this case, ‘remote’ means 25 minutes from a small ambulance depot and 36km from the nearest large hospital.

Making AEDs More Accessible and More Affordable

Other local communities on the Mornington Peninsula haven’t waited to see if they are eligible for a free defibrillator through this benefactor’s generosity. They decided to get on board as quickly as possible, with several other local communities already self-funding the purchase of a defibrillator through a shared-cost model. This way, each resident or home-owner contributes towards purchasing a defibrillator that may save the life of a family member or neighbour.

The local Men’s Shed groups have also come to the party to assist in erecting the devices in a public space for easy location and quick access in the event of an SCA emergency in the immediate area.

Get in Touch and Make Your Community Heart Safe

DefibsPlus has been a partner in this project to save lives by helping local communities to build their own local Heart Smart program. DefibsPlus can supply the device and provide free advice on how to erect it securely for public access. We also provide access to our free online Heart Smart training program to ensure that everyone in your local community has the training to act confidently as a non-medical bystander when a cardiac emergency occurs.

Please contact us to see how we can make this offer even more affordable for your business or community.