Do you know where your nearest defibrillator is?
It’s a question that many would not be able to answer, however the Defibshop’s Carpet Hughes is making it his mission to make sure everyone knows the answer.
Carpet is a registered Intensive Care Paramedic with more than twenty eight years of experience in paramedicine practice. He has trained many paramedics in their field and was the regional Paramedic Educator for a major Australian ambulance service, managing the education of more than five hundred paramedics.
It is as a paramedic that Carpet first began to learn about and use defibrillators.
Carpet is extremely passionate about the life-saving role of defibrillators in our communities and is dedicated to improving access to them.
It is this passion which helped forge a strong partnership between Westfund and the Defibshop – a partnership with the goal of bringing defibrillators to the communities who needed them.
Through the ‘Here for Hearts Program’, Westfund and the Defibshop have helped bring AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) to a range of community and sporting organisations and schools across Queensland and NSW. Here for Hearts is now a cornerstone of Westfund’s Community Grants Program, continuing to improve AED access and awareness.
Automated External Defibrillators are a specific kind of defibrillator which are, as the name implies, fully automated, meaning people of all ages can easily learn to use them and perhaps one day save a life.
Carpet was happy to sit down with us and share his knowledge about defibrillators, Sudden Cardiac Arrest and why seconds count.
How does a defibrillator work?
A defibrillator looks at the electrical activity within the heart at the time of applying the monitor / defibrillator leads. The electrical activity is analysed to see if the heart appears to be functioning properly, or in the case of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), to see if ventricular fibrillation is occurring, in which case it will defibrillate. Defibrillation hopefully allows the natural pacemakers to kick back into proper function and restore a natural heartbeat to the cardiac system.
Who should know how to use an AED?
Almost anyone and everyone should know how to use an AED. For instance, in other parts of the world, children learn about CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and defibrillators at school.
What is it that makes AEDs such a crucial piece of life-saving equipment?
Its ability to deliver a shock immediately to assist with restoring the heart’s natural heartbeat. This then allows for the restoration of blood flow and oxygen to all vital organs of the body, including the brain.
Why is it important that AEDs are readily available in all communities?
Simply because defibrillation needs to be administered immediately when SCA strikes. Every minute that passes by, it is believed that your chance of survival diminishes by about ten per cent. We cannot always rely on ambulances to be at our side within minutes, and hence why it is important to have publicly accessible AEDs.
What is the difference between Sudden Cardiac Arrest and a heart attack?
A Sudden Cardiac arrest is simply when the patient is unconscious and not breathing.
A heart attack patient may be suffering from any or all of the following:
- Chest pain
- Chest tightness
- Chest discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Pale in colour
- Decreased level of consciousness
- Pain radiating into either arm from the chest
- Pain radiating into the jaw from the chest
- Profusely sweaty
- Chest pain / tightness with nausea and/or vomiting
- Any sign or symptom you may have had with a previous heart attack or cardiac condition
The above are only examples of what a heart attack may present with. If you have any concerns about your health, and in particular a heart attack, you should always seek a professional opinion and assistance. In a medical emergency, call ‘000’ to get your local paramedics.
What is your advice to someone who may be in the company of a person suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
- Remain calm
- Call 000
- Commence CPR immediately – don’t run, and don’t panic!
- Call for your nearest AED to be obtained, apply it as soon as possible and then follow the instructions.
- If possible, summons others to assist you – they can assist with doing compressions or setting up the AED.