Every year nearly 2000 New Zealanders suffer from a cardiac arrest event outside of hospital, and only five to eight percent will survive without immediate treatment.
But use of an AED (automated external defibrillator) can increase the chance of survival after cardiac arrest by up to 40 per cent.
The community initiative received a boost this year with a grant from the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund paying for eight weatherproof secure lockboxes for AEDs. The lockboxes will house the AEDs in strategic locations so they are available for use seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
HEARTSafe Cambridge secretary Henry Strong says once the project is completed, there will be 15 AEDs available in the area.
The hope is these life-saving devices won’t have to be used too often, but having them there makes Cambridge a safer place for all residents and visitors.
As well as providing AEDs, HEARTSafe Cambridge’s volunteers inspect and maintain devices that belong to other community organisations, and will demonstrate CPR and how to use the defibrillator devices so that members of the public feel capable and confident of helping someone suffering a cardiac arrest.
“When a gentleman suffered a cardiac arrest in the town hall, there were two women there that not only knew what to do, but were willing to help,” Henry says.
“One of them performed CPR while the second woman ran to get the AED we’d placed at the local Z station. They were about to open the AED when the ambulance arrived and the paramedics shocked the patient.”
The best news, Henry says, was the patient survived. But also the incident was a great example of what the group is trying to achieve – providing people with the equipment, skills and the will to help someone in need.
Each year, the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund helps up to 300 groups in New Zealand, supporting community initiatives through grants to charities, schools, clubs and local emergency services.
Fonterra’s Global Sponsorship Manager Kane Silcock says the Fund supports initiatives that enrich people’s lives and benefit their community. “It’s our way of supporting projects and ideas that bring our communities together and make them better, safer, more vibrant places to be, it’s a way to say thanks to the people of New Zealand.”