The shocking truth about cardiac arrest

St John Ambulance pushes for widespread community defibrillators during Shocktober

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EVERY MINUTE COUNTS: Easy access to a defibrillator saves lives.

EVERY MINUTE COUNTS: Easy access to a defibrillator saves lives.

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During a cardiac arrest, an easily accessible defibrillator might just save a life.

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SHOCKTOBER is upon us and St John Ambulance is emphasising the importance of defibrillators in the wider community.

The initiative - officially known as Defibrillator Awareness Month, stresses the importance of community members having access to defibrillators and knowing how to use them.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in Australia, with around 20,000 taking place outside of hospital each year. The survival rate is alarmingly low, at just 10 per cent.

St John Ambulance NSW chief executive Sarah Lance said prompt treatment was essential and it was important to have a defibrillator close at hand.

"'The combination of CPR and defibrillation is the only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest and can increase survival rates by up to 70 per cent," she said.

"We should see defibrillators in any areas where large crowds congregate- whether that's in shopping centres, sporting grounds, concert halls and even public transport."

"They need to be within three minutes reach of any sudden cardiac arrest."

Cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical signal to the heart is interrupted and the heart unexpectedly stops pumping.

Defibrillators analyse the heart's rhythm, identify abnormalities and inform the user when a shock is needed through verbal commands.

St John Ambulance have developed online classes to teach people how to respond in emergencies.

The Defibrillation Awareness course is only $25 and takes 30 minutes to complete.

For further information about training courses, or to enroll, click here.

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