SAVING HEARTS: Brett Roche of F45 Noosa and Coolum is pushing for defibrillators to be introduced in all businesses.
SAVING HEARTS: Brett Roche of F45 Noosa and Coolum is pushing for defibrillators to be introduced in all businesses. John McCutcheon

Increase in life-saving machines could improve survival rate

A SUNSHINE Coast medical distributor says increased awareness on the importance of defibrillators could improve the average chance of survival from heart attacks or cardiac arrest in Australia.

The incredible story of a young woman who survived after she went into cardiac arrest at Anytime Fitness Noosa due to an underlying heart condition has sparked a public conversation on the importance of increased access of defibrillators.

Medical distributor and owner of F45 Noosa and Coolum, Brett Roche, said Emily Counter's story was important in raising awareness and encouraging all businesses to have a defibrillator on scene.

He said Australia was one of the worst in the world for the number of defibrillators and how long it took to access one.

While some countries, including Italy, had more than a 90 per cent survival rate relating to witnessed cardiac arrests, Australia's rate is about 9 per cent.

Mr Roche said the biggest concern was Australia's ambulance response rates were about 10 minutes or more.

"Alarmingly at the moment, with the hospital being down at Kawana, in Noosa itself our response rate ... is anywhere up to 30-40 minutes if they're transporting a patient down to the hospital," he said.

"The chances of you surviving a cardiac arrest in Noosa is very slim.

"In [Emily's] case without a defib there, unfortunately it would have been a very different result."

 

Several men rushed to Emily Counter's aid when she went into cardiac arrest at Anytime Fitness Noosa.
Emily Counter has thanked the men who performed CPR on her and Anytime Fitness Noosa for having a defibrillator on scene when she went into sudden cardiac arrest. Contributed

After Mr Roche took over his F45 studios and put a defibrillator on scene, he was a key player in rolling them out across all studios in Australia.

"We've got about 600 studios in Australia that have all put them in now," he said.

"Unfortunately there's a lot of gyms and still a lot of bootcamps and PTs that are doing things at the park that don't have them."

Under Australian legislation, having a defibrillator on scene is not a formal requirement.

"The legislation is around making sure that you do have the medical supplies that you'd need for the amount of risk at your workplace," Mr Roche said.

"It doesn't actually say that you do have to have (a defibrillator)."

Mr Roche and his company BCR Medical - a platinum distributor for Stryker International - want to see defibrillators in all businesses, including offices, restaurants, supermarkets and gyms.

"There's a lot of places you would assume would have it, but don't," he said.

"You're over 300 times more likely to have a cardiac arrest at work than have any sort of incident from fire ... yet we have to have fire extinguishers and fire blankets."

With a background in surf life saving, Mr Roche said he had a passion for educating people about first aid and resuscitation.

"It was sort of a natural progression to be able to get into this space, to be able to help others," he said.

"I was actually shocked when I got into the gyms just how few actually had them.

"It's definitely something that we should all be aware of."

Mr Roche said many people were reluctant to stock defibrillators because of an out-dated fear of not knowing how to use them or making the situation worse.

"It does everything for you," he said.

"The defib is literally a two-step program. You open it up and you put the pads on and that's it.

"It's not something that people should be scared of."

The cost of a defibrillator is relatively inexpensive and should be a necessary item to ensure the safety of staff and clients, Mr Roche said. The machines range from $1700-$3000 and last up to eight years.

"It's a pretty small cost to pay to make sure your staff and clients are looked after," he said.

For more information contact BCR Medical at admin@bcrmedical.com.au.