St John WA calls on Wheatbelt communities to help save a life

St John WA is calling on Wheatbelt residents to join their Community First Responder (CFR), with the goal to have 5000 locations signed up by Christmas.

The CFR program aims to get defibrillators to cardiac arrest victims in the vital moments before an ambulance arrives, dramatically increasing a person's chance of survival.

There are currently 3700 registered CFR locations across WA, including 436 in the Wheatbelt.

Each location has its details registered with St John.

St John CFR manager Sally Simmonds said when an emergency call is received, the operator is able to direct the caller or bystanders to a nearby defibrillator while an ambulance is en-route.

She said the program is linked with St John's First Responder smartphone app, which shows the location of all CFR sites and alerts registered first aiders who are in the vicinity of an unfolding public emergency.

"The Community First Responder program creates a vital link between St John, local businesses and community groups which makes early defibrillation possible," Ms Simmonds said.

"A cardiac arrest can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or health status.

"More than 33,000 Australians die from the condition each year, and the single biggest factor in improving survival rates is the time taken to administer early CPR and defibrillation.

"It's our mission to make defibrillators as commonly thought of as fire extinguishers and smoke alarms. To make this happen, we need the community's help.

"In the Wheatbelt we're fortunate to have a several CFR locations, however, we're encouraging more community groups, sporting clubs and businesses to come on board as we close in on our target of 5000 locations across WA."

In the 2017/18 financial year, the number of CFR locations grew by 28 per cent from 1664 to 2128.

Since November 2018 a further 1558 sites have registered, taking the total to 3686.

"The response to the CFR program has been nothing short of amazing and we're already seeing the benefits of this collaborative approach translate to improved outcomes," Ms Simmonds said.

"Last year, St John WA recorded a 50 per cent increase in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates with 172 survivors, compared with 113 the previous year.

"Such a sharp increase is virtually unheard of, and one of the factors has been better access to defibrillation.

"If someone has received quality bystander CPR and defibrillation before paramedics arrive, it dramatically increases the likelihood of us getting them to hospital alive."

For more information on how to become a CFR location call (08) 9334 1428 or email first.responder@stjohnambulance.com.au.