Defib your community
by COREY BLACKWELL
8th March 2019
Photo: DEE DICKSON
WARRANDYTE Community Bank Branch has recently purchased seven new automatic external defibrillators which have been installed throughout the greater Warrandyte area.
The defibrillators, which were purchased as part of the bank’s Defib Your Community program, were part of a $20,000 contribution by the local branch.
Branch Chair Aaron Farr said the defibrillators were one of the most important investments the bank has ever put into the community.
“Over the next 20 years, if one of our new defibrillators can be used to save one life, it will be worth all the money we’ve invested”.
Community liaison officer Dee Dickson said the program was something the bank was very passionate about.
“The directors are volunteers on the Board because they believe in community and want the best outcomes for our community.
“As soon as they heard about the program, they unanimously said ‘we’re in, let’s do it’.”
Ambulance Victoria figures show approximately 6,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital each year in Victoria.
The new defibrillators, which are fixed externally to buildings throughout the community, are accessible 24/7 and are designed to assist in these exact emergency scenarios.
Advanced Life Support Paramedic Bec Hodgson said with greater access to a defibrillator in the community, chances of surviving a cardiac arrest are greatly increased.
“The management of a patient between the time of collapse and the arrival of an ambulance is vital.
“Survival rates nearly double when a defibrillator has been used prior to paramedic arrival,” she said.
While most businesses will have a defibrillator, it may only be available during business hours, these new externally mounted units give people a chance when a cardiac arrest occurs outside of business hours — like on a Monday.
“If you’re going for a 7am walk along the river, they’re not available.
“Hopefully the community doesn’t need them, but these new external defibrillators are an insurance policy in case they do.”
As well as providing a priceless benefit to the community, the new defibrillators will relieve some of the stress for emergency services workers and volunteers, who respond to these calls.
“They may make the difference between a patient still being in cardiac arrest or having come out of it when the ambulance arrives,” said Ms Hodgson.
Aside from funding the program, the bank is also working with emergency services organisations to encourage those members of the community who already have defibrillators to register them with Ambulance Victoria.
The more defibrillators which are registered means an Emergency Services Telecommunication Agency worker can direct someone calling 000 to the nearest unit, potentially saving someone’s life.
“There’s no point in someone calling 000 and the operator not knowing there is a defibrillator two doors down because it’s not registered,” said Mr Farr.
The defibrillators were purchased through non-for-profit organisation Defib For Life, which also provides on-going support for the machines, including regular checks and training.
The bank will be working with Defib For Life to organise training sessions in the coming months for those interested in building confidence with the defibrillators.
Although proper training on how to use one of these units will mean they are used properly, and promptly during an emergency, Ms Hodgson says they are also designed so anyone can assist someone suffering from a cardiac arrest.
“The unit will talk you through what you need to do in simple steps and you will have the support of the 000 call taker also helping you through the process”.
Mr Farr said the training will be directed at building confidence with the machines.
“If you’re more confident in using something, you’re more likely to pick it up and use it.
“When people actually feel confident in using it, it empowers them to say, ‘I know how to make a difference myself’.
“So, it’s no longer just this daunting box on the side of the wall,” he said.
Warrandyte Community Bank will continue to fund the Defib Your Community program, and have two more defibrillators already lined up.
“We’re going to keep rolling them out until you can’t go 10 minutes without seeing one,” said Ms Dickson.
“By us dotting them around the community, with some even only 200 metres apart, we’re really increasing the outcomes for members of our community if something drastic happens.”
Ms Dickson reminds us that it is the profits gained from banking with Warrandyte Community Bank which goes towards funding projects like this and through locals and businesses banking locally, they can be proud knowing their money is being reinvested in the health of their local community.
“People are making a difference just by banking here — it’s so simple,” she said.
Members of the community with defibrillators can register them with Ambulance Victoria via www.reigstermyaed.ambulance.vic.gov.au or call 1800 233 734.
Anyone wishing to participate in training with the defibrillators can contact Dee Dickson via