St John calls for more defibrillators

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More automated electronic defibrillators (AED) are needed in Waitaki, according to St John Oamaru.
An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient.
It is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.
With simple audio and visual commands, AEDs are designed to be simple to use.
There are about 20 available for public use in the Waitaki district. Of those, about half are in Oamaru.
Fire appliances and ambulances also carry them.
Units available for public use are generally in locked boxes, with codes provided by calling emergency services.
St John Oamaru area executive officer Felicia McCrone said while it was good to have those available, more were needed in certain areas.
“I think there are still gaps in the community.”Those areas included Maheno, State Highway 83 between Pukeuri and Papakaio and then Duntroon, and Kakanui.
“St John has been lucky _ we got a grant for funding to put a whole lot in the community about four years ago now,” Mrs McCrone said.
“The deal with that was we provided the AEDs, and the businesses or organisations they were installed at paid for their upkeep … they’re not used 24/7, but are still used on a regular basis by the community.”Several businesses also have their own AEDs.
St John sells an AED for $3000. The costs associated with them are $82 every two years for gel pads and $180 every four years, on average, for a new battery.
Mrs McCrone is concerned locations such as rugby grounds, the hockey turf, the North Otago netball courts and Awamoa Park do not have AEDs.
“I think for sports groups, finding that initial funding is the problem. As a sports group or club, you’ve got so many things to apply for funding for … it goes to the bottom of the list.”She believed all sports organisations and clubs should have an AED installed.
Mrs McCrone said people did not need to be afraid to use them, and advised them to do so if necessary. If they were not confident using one, CPR was the next best option.
“Do CPR if you feel comfortable. Do something rather than doing nothing and call for help quickly.”