Heart-starters for sports clubs

Commissioner Dominic Morgan, Chief Executive NSW Ambulance, with NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres and Michael Hughes Foundation founder Julie Hughes.

Commissioner Dominic Morgan, Chief Executive NSW Ambulance, with NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres and Michael Hughes Foundation founder Julie Hughes.

Commissioner Dominic Morgan, Chief Executive NSW Ambulance, has welcomed an announcement by NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres to provide $4 million over the next four years to help sports clubs buy and maintain Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).

Mr Ayres, who made the 2017-18 Budget announcement at a press conference on June 13 said eligible, not-for-profit sports clubs, councils and sports associations will be able to apply for a 50 per cent co-funding contribution from the Local Sport Defibrillator Program from later this year.

In total, 2500 defibrillators will be rolled out across the state through the program.

Mr Morgan said NSW Ambulance strongly supports the initiative. “We know directly that this will save lives in our community.

“These devices are simple, safe, and there for anybody to use. They’re not just there for trained professionals. If you can make a cup of tea, you can use an Automated External Defibrillator.

“If you see a community member in cardiac arrest and you know where an AED is, send someone to get the device. The best chance of survival for anyone suffering an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is immediate CPR and defibrillation, backed up by paramedics.”

Mr Morgan said NSW Ambulance responds to about 7000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests a year, with a number of these occurring at sports fields.

“Sometimes sadly there are conditions that can lead to cardiac arrest on sportsgrounds which often affect young people,” he said.

Mr Ayres said the NSW Office of Sport will announce guidelines and an application process for funding following next week’s Budget.

The first round of applications will start in October this year. “This will allow the Office of Sport to run a tender process to ensure approved defibrillators are going on to grounds and they’re backed up with the maintenance and training that’s required to ensure maximum rollout,” Mr Ayres said.

“This will put defibrillators on the ground, throughout NSW. Whether you are in north-west or south-west Sydney; whether you are in the heart of Sydney’s CBD or in a rural or remote location, having a defibrillator with someone knowing how to use it, at your local sporting ground, will save a life.”

He said the announcement was not just about assisting with the purchase of defibrillators, but ensuring sports organisations join with the Government in a whole-of-community approach.

“It’s important to recognise there’s a responsibility for clubs to ensure people in their organisations are trained in how to use a defibrillator. That’s why maintenance and a training scheme is part of our package,” he said.

He thanked those who had been calling on the Government to support efforts in making these life-saving devices more accessible to local sportsgrounds.

“We’ve seen the capacity for a defibrillator to save a person’s life. After a person suffers cardiac arrest, for every minute before they have access to a defibrillator, their chances of survival reduces by between seven and 10 per cent. The first eight minutes after cardiac arrest are crucial.

“If we can utilise our local defibrillators to support people in those critical moments before emergency services arrive we will simply save lives.”

One organisation which has welcomed the announcement is the Michael Hughes Foundation, a charity established by Julie Hughes as a legacy to her husband, following his passing from a cardiac arrest.

“Training and maintenance is included in this announcement which is vital, so people have the confidence to administer CPR and use a defibrillator,” Mrs Hughes said.

“As a foundation we are working to turn bystanders into first responders and it is the community in conjunction with NSW Ambulance, through to hospital admission, which will help save lives.”