A new Ambulance Tasmania program represents the single biggest change to out of hospital emergency care in Tasmania for many years and has the potential to increase access to defibrillation tenfold.
The Chief Executive Officer of Ambulance Tasmania, Dominic Morgan, said the Early Access to Defibrillation Program was an Australian first because it linked community based defibrillators registered with Ambulance Tasmania to the triple zero emergency network.
"Shocking the heart in those first few minutes of a cardiac arrest is the key to survival.
"For every minute of cardiac arrest a person's chance of survival diminishes by between seven and ten per cent, so early access to defibrillation is essential."
Mr Morgan said that what most people don't know is that Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) are designed for anyone to pick them up and use them safely.
"The machine talks the user through the situation and does not administer a shock if it's not needed," Mr Morgan said.
Under the Program, if a cardiac arrest occurs within a few blocks of a registered machine, Ambulance Tasmania's communications centre will send a text message to its owner and, if possible, the owner can take their defibrillator to the scene to help the patient.
The owner is under no obligation to attend if they receive the message late or are not near the scene, in fact they are under no obligations at all.
"Our paramedics will still be there within minutes to provide advanced clinical care, but the first few minutes of CPR and defibrillation are what gives the patient the best possible chance.
"We need the community to get involved and tell us if they have a defibrillator that they would be happy to register with Ambulance Tasmania for possible use during emergency cardiac arrest," Mr Morgan said.
Around 650 Tasmanians experienced a cardiac arrest out of hospital last year and preliminary research indicates that there may be up to 500 AEDs held by the community in places like airports and shopping centres.
Ambulance Tasmania is undertaking the Early Access to Defibrillation Program in partnership with the University of Tasmania, the Australian Heart Foundation, the Australian Resuscitation Council and the Department of Cardiology at the Tasmanian Health Organisation‑South.
The Project has been awarded an $80 000 grant from the virtual Tasmanian Academic Health Science Precinct at the University of Tasmania to contribute to its funding.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER AN (AED) call 1300 979 057 and ask for a Registration Pack, or download a form from: www.ambulance.tas.gov.au/EADP