St John Ambulance calls for mandatory workplace defibrillators amid worryingly low awareness levels

St John Ambulance is calling for mandatory defibrillators in the workplace as new research reveals Victorian workers have a worrying low awareness about the life-saving devices.

The research, commissioned by St John Ambulance (Victoria), showed only three in 10 Victorian workers (33 per cent) were aware of a defibrillator in the workplace, sitting behind public locations such as shopping centres (46 per cent) and airports (43 per cent).

The data also uncovered that while 63 per cent of Victorian workers knew how defibrillators worked, only half would be confident using one in an emergency situation.

This week was Heart Week and St John Ambulance was using it as a chance to draw attention to the importance of defibrillators and the need to educate employees on how to use them.

The service asked businesses across the state to apply to win one of five defibrillators. Disability group Golden City Support Services was a Bendigo region winner.

Employee Jo Zeman said that having a defibrillator on hand meant the service would be able to provide life-saving support to their employees and patrons.

“We’re so excited to receive the defibrillator as it will give so many people peace of mind that if there is a medical emergency they will now be able to easily access one,” she said.

The service would also register their device with the online the Ambulance Victoria AED register.

Two months ago, Ambulance Victoria called for businesses to register their defibrillators, saying that it would help bystanders quickly start treatment while they waited for paramedics to arrive.

At the time, only 37 defibrillators were registered locally.

Defibrillation within the first few minutes of having a sudden cardiac arrest increased the chance of survival to more than 70 per cent.

Less than five per cent of the approximately 15,000 Australians who had a sudden cardiac arrest survived, often because help could not reach them in time.

For every minute a person waited for defibrillation, their chance of survival decreased by 10 per cent.

St Johns (Victoria) CEO Gordon Botwright said having access to defibrillators in the workplace was critical to saving lives.

“This is especially important in regional Victoria, where ambulance response times are higher.”