In the media: Watch the Channel Ten news clip for details on the latest Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) activation at the Sydney Airport Virgin Blue terminal. Watch Now
WHAT IS PUBLIC ACCESS DEFIBRILLATION (PAD)?
PAD programs make early defibrillation available; they are easy to use, even for users with minimal training. We have available the technology to save more lives, and the technology is affordable. St John Ambulance aim to get this technology to the Australian public who need it, and in time to make a difference. St John Ambulance Australia believes PAD programs have the potential to strengthen the greatest advancement in the treatment of out-of hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). This is achievable by placing Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in locations where large numbers of Australians gather.
St John Ambulance aims to promote the importance of resuscitation training and make PAD possible. The advancement of early defibrillation, used in the initial treatment of SCA, complements the existing Emergency Medical Services.
WHAT IS AN AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATOR (AED)?
An AED is used to treat SCA, a condition that occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops pumping. SCA can occur to anyone – young or old, male or female – anywhere, and at any time. Many casualties have no warning signs or symptoms.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can maintain the blood flow and keep the blood oxygenated, but SCA is usually caused by fibrillation, a disturbance of the electrical activity in the heart’s ventricular muscle, or larger pumping chamber. It causes the heart to quiver or ‘fibrillate’ in a disordered way. Because the electrical disruption prevents the heart pumping blood around the body effectively, your heart stops beating, or you have a SCA. This will cause you to collapse, be unresponsive and have no signs of life. It is fatal if you are not resuscitated quickly. The only effective treatment for fibrillation is defibrillation. Using an AED, you can deliver an electric shock to defibrillate the casualty’s heart.
Note: Automated External Defibrillators were originally designed for adults, although some manufacturers now offer paediatric-sized pads that reduce the adult-size shock to a level more suitable to children 1 to 8 years.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEFIBRILLATORS?
Yes. Defibrillators are divided into two groups; Manual and Automated.
Manual defibrillators - are used by health professionals who are trained to interpret symptoms and heart rhythms on manual defibrillators.
Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) - today’s new devices have inbuilt computer chips to analyse the rhythms instantly and accurately, making it possible for nonprofessionals to administer the same benefit without risking accidental shock. It is automated in that the shock level is not user-selectable, thus the user cannot override a ‘no shock’ advice.
WHY CAN’T WE WAIT UNTIL THE AMBULANCE ARRIVES?
Defibrillation is most effective when carried out within three minutes of a SCA; its effectiveness diminishes by 10 percent for every minute that passes before defibrillation. Good CPR helps to prolong the time during which effective defibrillation can be achieved.
Defibrillation compliments the Chain of Survival of SCA.
WHAT IS THE CHAIN OF SURVIVAL?
The Chain of Survival is described as:
- Early access
- Early Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
- Early defibrillation
- Early advanced life support
These are essential components or links in the Chain of Survival, they are a series of actions designed to reduce the mortality associated with SCA. Since 1992, the Chain of Survival has been widely promoted and has become the underlying concept for the treatment of out-of-hospital SCA in many Emergency Medical Services. 2
WHO CAN TRAIN PEOPLE TO USE AEDs?
St John Ambulance Australia is a national self-funding not-for-profit organisation, active in every State and Territory, Australia’s largest first aid Registered Training Organisation, providing practical life-saving skills to around a quarter of a million people each year.
St John Ambulance Australia offers a CPR and AED course for using AEDs for people to understand and participate in this life-saving skill.
HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO TRAIN PEOPLE?
For someone with no prior experience or knowledge, a four hour training course is available.
WHAT IF THE AED IS ATTACHED TO A CONSCIOUS PERSON?
If there is normal electrical activity in the heart, the AED will not allow a shock to be given. The presence of normal electrical activity usually means that the heart is beating, and pumping blood with palpable pulse beats. E.G. if someone faints and the AED is applied the AED will not allow a shock to be delivered.
HOW CAN SOMEONE WHO IS NOT A HEALTHCARE WORKER USE THE AED?
The AED guides the user by visual and voice prompts, step-by-step through the defibrillation process. The AED will not deliver a shock unless it detects a shockable rhythm.
HOW WILL I KNOW IF THE HEART STOPS AGAIN?
The AED will continue to monitor the casualty’s heart rhythm. If the analysis reveals that the heart rhythm changes to a shockable rhythm, you then need to follow prompts given by the AED.
HOW CAN I IMPLEMENT AN AED IN MY ORGANISATION/COMMUNITY?
We invite you to contact St John Ambulance Australia 1300 360 455 if you have any questions or would like a Risk Assessment attended, and help save lives in your community or workplace.
The PAD model is very easy to implement and enables organisations, businesses and community groups to provide the help that victims of SCA need to survive.
The model is based on three key areas:
1. First Aid Training (specific to cardiac arrest)
2. Direct links to the Emergency Medical Services.
3. Ongoing clinical and training support from St John Ambulance Australia
Public Access Defibrillator Locations
For more information on the location of Public Access Defibrillators in your community, visit the Project HeartStart page.
See how a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) can be placed in your workplace, click the picture to explore the Virtual Office developed by Comcare: