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A piece of life-saving equipment has been installed at the Glenavy fishing camp, on the north side of the Waitaki River, thanks to the efforts of one of the camp’s hut owners.

An automated electronic defibrillator (AED), installed last week, is available for use at the camp’s community room. Mosgiel man Tom Park felt one was needed at the camp, which has two permanent residents and more than 40 huts.

An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia 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 re-establish an effective rhythm.

It is designed for ease of use and features simple audio and visual commands.

“I applied for funding at various places and Meridian Energy were kind enough to agree to fund it,” Mr Park said.

“We’re quite isolated down here. I know the [Glenavy] fire station have one AED, but it’s a volunteer service and they have to get to the fire station, then drive 5km here, so it’s a delay.”

He believed an AED was an essential piece of equipment that could one day save a life.

“We got it because of the age of the people that fish down there at the Waitaki River. We just thought it would be a good idea to have one.”

Mr Park, who owns two huts at the camp and has been a regular visitor for the past six years, was aware of more than one medical emergency that had occurred at or near the camp, where an AED might have made a difference.

“I believe we’ve lost a couple of camp members – that was a few years ago. One guy died while he was whitebaiting and there was no help available .. whether anyone could have been saved, I don’t know.”

He said the AED was available for use by the nearby community of Glenavy and the surrounding area if needed.

Dozens of people converge on the camp during the whitebaiting season, which runs from mid-August until the end of November, and it is also a popular area for salmon fishing.

“There could be dozens of people here when the whitebait are running,” Mr Park said.

“There would be 40 to 50 on this side of the river and probably the same number on the other side.”

Some 20 defibrillators are stationed at various points around Oamaru, and another six are in the Waimate area.