2012 Heart Start Campaign

100 defibrillators and training gifted to Victorian sporting clubs

St John Ambulance Victoria, the state's leading provider of First Aid services, launched a community campaign that gave away lifesaving defibrillators and associated training to grass roots Victorian sporting clubs.

In the first phase of the Heart Start campaign, 100 defibrillator units and associated training worth $385,000 were gifted to high priority clubs proudly supported by St John's medical equipment partner Laerdal.

There are over 16,000 sporting clubs in Victoria however through its investigations St John believes there are approximately 2,300 clubs across football, netball, rugby, athletics, cricket and basketball that need a defibrillator as a priority. These clubs are engaged in vigorous sport.

St John's long term vision is that by the start of the 2014 amateur sport season, all of these clubs will have a defibrillator on site and be prepared to use it if required.

St John Chief Executive Officer Stephen Horton said the campaign was inspired by the spate of Sudden Cardiac Arrests (SCA) that occurred at community sporting clubs last year and the organisation's desire to help avoid preventable deaths in the 2012 season.

"In 2011 there were a significant number of sudden cardiac arrest-related incidents at local sporting clubs and at least three unfortunate fatalities. That's three lives that may have been saved if a defibrillator was on hand," Mr Horton said.

"Helping prevent avoidable deaths is highly relevant to our mission of saving lives through First Aid at St John and we know that clubs struggle to raise the funds to purchase a defibrillator. Through this program we hope to break down that barrier and equip community sporting clubs so if required, they can administer a defibrillator shock and follow up with CPR until an ambulance arrives."

Heart Start Ambassador and former VFL/AFL player Doug Hawkins launches the community program

Associate Professor Peter Morley, Deputy Chairman of the Australian Resuscitation Council, said having a defibrillator and trained personnel on site at local sporting clubs is critical in giving players who suffer from a cardiac arrest the best possible chance of survival and recovery.

"Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, but is more likely to occur during vigorous physical exercise in competitive sports such as football, basketball and athletics," Dr Morley added.

For every passing minute without a defibrillator shock the chance of survival reduces by ten per cent - and with the average response time from an ambulance being 9 to 14 minutes, having a defibrillator on hand is critical to survival. Being able to respond appropriately in the minutes that follow a cardiac arrest will ensure the best possible chance of a good outcome.

The result

Successful applications were assessed based on the club's financial situation, the type of sport they do, their proximity to medical services and their level of risk. Successful clubs were announced in March with delivery completed in June. So far, at least one life has been saved through this campaign.

"This gift to the community is just the first step towards St John achieving our vision of equipping every Victorian sporting club with lifesaving defibrillator equipment and training."