Thousands of West Aucklanders are set to benefit from a new initiative which will significantly increase the number of publicly available Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) around the region.
A defibrillator or AED delivers an electric shock directly to a patient’s heart to help it return to a regular rhythm. Applying CPR or chest compressions along with rapid defibrillation to a patient in cardiac arrest, can increase their chances of survival by up to 40%. But for every minute without CPR or defibrillation, a patient’s chance of survival falls by 10-15%.
Ministry of Health data has found one Kiwi dies every 90 minutes from some form of heart disease and yet in New Zealand, defibrillators are unregulated - with no framework to determine where they are located, who installs and maintains them and what quality the machine is.
World Health Organisation guidelines suggest the ideal distance from an AED is a three-minute walk, however in an unregulated environment there are a number of challenges to get large numbers installed across New Zealand, especially outside urban centres and in lower socio-economic areas.
According to new research, five people a day are treated for Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) in New Zealand, with only a tenth (12%) discharged from hospital and alive at thirty days.
The study found a significantly higher incidence of OHCA among Māori and Pasifika as well as males and those aged over 65, while data from St John’s latest Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Registry, suggests people living in the most deprived areas, who experience cardiac arrest, have a lower survival rate than those in the least deprived areas.
The Trusts chief executive Simon Wickham says West Auckland has the country’s third highest rate of OHCA and yet access to a local AED during an emergency is poor.
He says 26 portable AEDs will be installed at West Auckland sporting and event venues, as well as at The Trusts’ retail stores and hospitality venues.
“Research shows that there are a number of areas in West Auckland with a high incidence of cardiac arrest and yet there are no publicly available AEDs within close proximity.
“Our objective is to ensure that these new life-saving machines can be installed throughout the region to help provide significantly more coverage during medical emergencies.
“We have engaged St John to provide first aid training for our staff and we will have the AEDs installed outside each of our venues, making them accessible to any member of the public in need,” he says.
Wickham says the AEDs have a combined retail value of more than $100,000 and will be donated by The Trusts.
“The opportunity for us to give back to the community in this way is immensely rewarding,” he says.
Wickham says The Trusts has worked with St John in the past, providing funding through their Million Dollar Mission grants which was used to upgrade West Auckland ambulance stations and provide a new shuttle to help get patients to health appointments.