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Isn’t it time we made Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) more accessible on Bribie?

By Staff Writer Alistair Gray

In any cardiac event, time is of the essence. Image supplied by ZOLL Medical Australia

Did you know that as of Sept 2019, there were 22 registered Defibrillators on Bribie Island? Today there is probably more. Sadly, almost all are locked away in cupboards, and many are only accessible between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Some inside Clubs, Schools, Community Centres, Retirement Villages, and retailers. Now, I don’t say you need to know exactly where they are, but have you seen any signage in your travels around the Island, notifying you of ones’ existence? This vital signage would be invaluable in an emergency.

Time is of the essence in the event of a cardiac incident. According to the Queensland Ambulance Service website, if you don’t receive CPR or defibrillation, your chance of survival decreases by 10 per cent each minute. In other words, you have about 8 minutes for someone to get help, after which time your chance of survival declines rapidly. So, accessing an AED or performing CPR, while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, significantly increases the chances of survival. AED shocks the heart and returns it to its normal rhythm. Unlike a heart attack, which is a blockage of the artery, a cardiac arrest is an electrical fault. As a result, this electrical fault means the abnormal heart rhythms cannot pump enough blood to your heart.

The lesson for us here, as a community, is we should improve our access to AEDs and learn how to perform CPR. With 50% of the Bribie population over the age of sixty, the likelihood of someone on the Island having a cardiac incident on most days is high. Coronary heart disease is the second leading cause of death for Queenslanders aged 35-64 years, with 8% of all Queenslanders die from coronary heart disease each year, according to the Health of Queenslanders 2020 report. I don’t know about you, but every time I leave the Island, I pass one or two ambulances with lights flashing, indicating a lot of medical emergency response activity on the Island.

When I contacted Queensland Ambulance, they confirmed they have been building a register of AEDs. The register is accessed when a triple zero caller rings with a suspected cardiac emergency. They advise the caller if an AED is on the business premises, however, not when located on nearby premises. There appears to be no plan to do anything else with this information, such as developing an AED locations website or building an APP. In some other States, websites show the location of AEDs, and in Tasmania, they have been trialling an APP.

In Queensland, public access AEDs seem to be limited to transport hubs, shopping centres and Clubs. While in the UK, Europe and New Zealand, you can find public access AEDs available 24/7, conveniently are attached to walls or in special-purpose boxes on a stand-alone pole. To access the AED, the user dials the emergency response number; here, it is 000, and the emergency operator gives the access code to the defibrillator, despatching an ambulance at the same time. A very efficient arrangement. With our age dynamics and high tourist numbers, such a system would be ideal for Bribie Island.

Finally, for those organisations with AEDs on their premises, I would encourage you to display suitable signage to show the public you have the lifesaving AED available. For those who want to learn CPR or upgrade their skills, regular training is available in Caboolture at around $50. Just Google CPR Training Caboolture to find your preferred trainer.


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