There are over to 7000 cardiac arrests in Victoria each year and, for many victims, the timely use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) could be the difference between life and death.
A new research partnership between La Trobe University and St John Ambulance Victoria will evaluate the ‘Defib in Your Street’ program, which aims to improve access to AEDs where they are needed most.
The program was piloted in the suburb of Reservoir, which has the fifth highest number of cardiac arrests in Victoria.
Dr Susan Chong, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Health, said the research will help to determine the extent of the deployment and use of AEDs in Reservoir. Along with Dr Chong, the project team members include Dr Ali Lakhani, Associate Professor and Dr Sabrina Gupta, Senior Lecturer who will be examining geographic information and engaging with participants from the Program.
“We have started evaluation and geospatial analysis to determine the population per AED, the ratio of cardiac arrests occurring within 400 metres of each AED, and the time for people to reach the closest AED”.
“We will also investigate the relationship between socioeconomic and demographic characteristics on access to, and capacity of, AED service locations.”
This study will also capture the experiences of first responders, private residents and business owners who have taken part in the ‘Defib in Your Street’ project.
“We will be speaking with participants these stakeholder groups to gain their insights into how the Program can be strengthened.”
Dr Chong says the research could inform where additional resources may be required and help understand any facilitatiors and barriers to access and use of AEDs.
“When it comes to sudden cardiac arrest survival, every minute matters,” says Emma Klinakis, Marketing and Community Manager at St John Ambulance Victoria. “If a defibrillator can be applied within 3-4 minutes the chance of survival dramatically improves.”
“By working with the researchers at La Trobe University, we hope to take our award-winning ‘Defib In Your Street’ program even further by understanding the optimal locations to place defibrillators for swiftest access and equity in the communities who need them most. This will inform future program rollouts so we can work to better community health outcomes.”