Northlanders are encouraged to sign up to a simple app that will help improve the survival rate of New Zealand's "silent killer" – a cardiac arrest.
The call comes as St John's Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest report shows more needs to be done to improve the community cardiac arrest survival rates.
St John clinical director Dr Tony Smith said every year cardiac arrest kills more New Zealanders than road accidents – a statistic everyone can change.
Last year, St John Ambulance treated around five people a day for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with 31 per cent of people surviving to hospital arrival. In Northland there were around 400 cardiac arrests from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.
Research showed Māori and Pasifika are more likely to have a cardiac arrest and less likely to survive.
Smith said more public awareness needed to be raised around the importance of bystander CPR and use of defibrillators.
"Bystanders can save lives by starting CPR, as early intervention can double the chance of survival. Everyone can learn CPR and using a defibrillator is simple – if you know how to use a cellphone, you can save a life."
Luke Mostert volunteers both as a St John ambulance officer in Paihia and as a GoodSAM via the app.
The GoodSAM app is for people over 18 who know how to do CPR or use an automated external defibrillator. They can register with the app and be alerted to a cardiac arrest nearby - meaning trained people nearby can respond immediately while an ambulance is en route.
Mostert said the decision to sign up around three years ago and help somebody in their time of need was an easy one to make.
"If you can have a positive outcome on just one person's life then that makes it all worth it," Mostert said.
So far, he has been alerted to three cardiac arrests in the community – one in Kawakawa and two in Whangārei.
One of these was 56-year-old Louis Morunga. The father of five said he owed his life to the bystanders who stopped to help him as he experienced a cardiac arrest on Bank St on February 26.
Mostert was the person who rushed to a nearby GP clinic to get oxygen gear as well as nurses and doctors to help Morunga.
Mostert said the app extended beyond staff from St John and the Northland District Health Board.
"If you have the training with an AED [defibrillator] then you've got what you need to sign up."
He also noted that remote rural communities with less access to CPR and AEDs would benefit from more GoodSAM volunteers as the chances of survival drop by 10 to 15 per cent for every minute that goes by without CPR or defibrillation.
People keen to do their bit for the community can book first aid courses through the St John website.
Smith encouraged everyone to know the location of their nearest AED which can be found by visiting https://aedlocations.co.nz/.