The St John Ambulance Community First Responder program is a free service that aims to get defibrillators to cardiac arrest victims in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives.
When a person unexpectedly collapses due to a cardiac arrest, bystanders may not know if there is a defibrillator close by. Organisations that are part of the St John Community First Responder program have their defibrillator location and a contact person registered with St John Ambulance. This helps a defibrillator to be retrieved as soon as possible and applied to the patient in the time critical period before an ambulance arrives.
Contrary to popular belief, sudden cardiac arrest can strike any person regardless of age, gender or health status and approximately 33,000 Australians die every year from this condition.
The single key contributing factor to improving survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest is the time taken to administer early CPR and defibrillation. Where CPR and defibrillation are administered within five minutes of an event, studies have shown dramatic improvements in survival rates.
How the Community First Responder system works
In the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, the flow of events is:
- A person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest
- Bystanders call triple zero (000)
- An ambulance is dispatched
- The first responder is called by the St John Ambulance triple zero (000) call centre and deployed
- The first responder carries out CPR and applies the AED if necessary
- An ambulance arrives and paramedics take over the care of the patient