St John has installed automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at three Far North marae, as part of a project aimed at reducing cardiac arrest fatalities among Maori.
The devices were installed at Waiora (Ngataki), Waituruke Settlement and Whitiora (Te Tii).
The initiative follows the release of the St John Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Report, which highlighted trends associated with cardiac arrests that occurred outside hospitals, and revealed that Maori were 20 times more likely to suffer a cardiac arrest than other ethnic groups.
St John Northern Region community programmes manager and paramedic Peter Hoskin, who installed the AEDs and provided training, says the visits were an excellent opportunity to establish relationships with marae at a local level.
"We want to form ongoing relationships with Northland iwi to create positive health outcomes for the wider Maori community," he said.
"St John can contribute towards those outcomes, working side by side with the other amazing primary health services that operate daily in Northland communities."
The initiative included training and a "3 Steps for Life" programme, which taught participants how to perform CPR and use AEDs. Almost 50 AEDS had now been distributed across the country since 2015.
St John medical director Dr Tony Smith said around 1800 people were treated for a cardiac arrest that occurred in the community every year. Survival was largely due to the quick actions of bystanders who initiated CPR and used an AED within the first few minutes.
"The more people who know how to do CPR and have access to an AED in the community, the greater the chances of patient survival," he said.
"For every minute without CPR or defibrillation, a patient's chance of survival falls by 10-15 per cent."
AEDs deliver a short, powerful electric shock to the heart, helping it to regain its natural rhythm. Automatic voice prompts guide the user through the procedure, enabling efficient CPR to be administered in conjunction with AED use.
The locations of AEDs around the country are registered at www.aedlocations.co.nz, and can be found via an online map.