The chances of surviving a cardiac arrest have been boosted for the community surrounding St Mary's Catholic Church in Rotorua with the gift of a new automated external defibrillator (AED).
The life-saving device, presented by St John and its community partner ASB, is the latest of 28 AEDs donated by ASB and Philips to support efforts by St John to improve cardiac arrest survival rates in New Zealand.
Research by St John reveals that last year St John Ambulance treated more than 2000 people for a cardiac arrest in the community, with only 31 per cent of those surviving to hospital arrival.
This survival rate is now the lowest against the five emergency services St John benchmarks against, and St John clinical director Dr Tony Smith says more work and resources are needed to save more lives.
St Mary's parish priest Father Thomas Thanniyanickal CMF says having an AED on site means they are now better prepared in an emergency.
"It's a privilege to receive this gift which can help save a life. We've had to call on St John Ambulance on more than one occasion for a medical emergency in our congregation," he says.
"We have six masses a week with 500 people attending at times, so having an AED on hand will have a huge impact if we ever need it."
St John is committed to improving survival rates by installing AEDs in public locations around New Zealand, like churches, marae, schools, businesses and sports grounds, as well as delivering the 3 Steps for Life programme, to teach people how to perform CPR and use an AED.
"Our research reveals that every minute that goes by without CPR or defibrillation reduces the chance of survival by 10-15 per cent, with only about 13 per cent surviving a cardiac arrest.
"This survival rate can be doubled by people taking three easy steps: calling 111 for an ambulance, starting CPR immediately and using the nearest AED," says St John Lakes territory manager George Clicquot.
"Having an AED accessible in a church community where many people frequent, means lives can be saved," he says.
"ASB has been supporting St John to get AEDs into more communities, to help increase the chances of survival during a cardiac arrest," says ASB head of community and sponsorship Mark Graham.
"We have AEDs in all of our branches and have had to use them a number of times, so we
know how critical they can be in an emergency when every minute counts.
"Having this AED will hopefully make a big difference when it's needed most."
St John's clinical research shows more AEDs are needed in remote and socio-economically deprived communities – something ASB is committed to helping with.