Roll-out of automated external defibrillators to rural and remote Australian communities

Roll-out of automated external defibrillators to rural and remote Australian communities Conference Paper

15th National Rural Health Conference: Better together!

  • Author(s): Harkness, Lindy, Gale, Lauren, Bishop, Lara
  • Secondary Author(s): Coleman, Leanne
  • Published: 2019

Abstract: Background: Cardiac arrest occurs in over 25, 000 Australians every year. In the event of cardiac arrest, CPR alone has low rates of effectiveness. However, when provided in combination with defibrillation, survival rates increase significantly—reported to be up to 30%. Defibrillation needs to be administered quickly in the event of cardiac arrest, ideally within 3 minutes, but this is often not possible in rural and remote areas where there are limited health facilities. A contributor to cardiac arrest can be chronic heart disease (CHD). Australians in remote areas are 1.6 times more likely than those in major cities to be hospitalised for, and 1.3 times as likely to die from, CHD. Indigenous Australians are overrepresented in these statistics. This is further demonstrated in demand for our emergency aeromedical retrievals, via which 112 patients per week, or 16 patients per day, are transported to receive definitive care in a tertiary hospital. Aim: Responding to these research findings and interest from our communities, we commenced national roll-out of portable Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), funded by corporate giving from a national partner. The primary aim of this AED project, the first of its kind in Australia, is to reduce the number of people who die from cardiac arrest in remote and rural Australia by improving access to AEDs for first responders. Method: Over two years of retrieval data was analysed to identify the locations most commonly attended in response to a patient experiencing cardiac arrest, along with national data relating to prevalence of CHD. We mapped these locations, and combined with local knowledge from our service managers, identified the best locations for provision of an AED. Results: Remote and rural locations in South Australia were identified as a high priority, and are the first for roll out of the portable AEDS through this program. It was determined that this program would most optimally be delivered in line with our medical chest program, which provides medications to approved custodians in areas where pharmacies are not easily accessible. To date, 80 AEDs have been provided in remote and rural South Australia, along with a self-developed training program to ensure people in those communities are confident to use the AEDs. This presentation will briefly explore the research that lead to the development of this program; the partnership approach leveraged to purchase the AEDS; the implementation methodology; and, results of the first year, including case studies.

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Suggested Citation
Harkness, Lindy, Gale, Lauren, Bishop, Lara, 2019, Roll-out of automated external defibrillators to rural and remote Australian communities, Conference Paper, viewed 02 December 2023,

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