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UK Expert Praises NZ Cardiac Scheme


For Release: 22 August 2002

A plan to bring life-saving medical technology to communities around New Zealand has drawn praise from a visiting medical expert.

Andrew Marsden, Consultant Medical Director of the Scottish Ambulance Service and former Chairman of the UK's Resuscitation Council says that St John's new Cardiac Arrest Survival Programme should play a significant role in reducing fatalities.

Dr Marsden is to be a guest speaker at St John's Annual Convention in Auckland this Friday (tomorrow), when the organization launches its campaign.

Part of the Survival Programme will involve St John's area committees raising funds for the local purchase of AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillators).

AEDs are designed to deliver controlled electric shocks to the chests of patients, in cases of ventricular fibrillation, the most common form of cardiac arrest. St John plans to train members of the public in the use of the devices, in order to help save lives even before the arrival of an ambulance.

Another crucial aspect of St John's programme will be the marketing of AEDs for emergency use in public places, including shopping malls, airports, sports stadiums, sports clubs and large corporate premises.

Cardiac victims in New Zealand are estimated to have a 70% chance of successful resuscitation if defibrillated within the first minute of arrest. With each subsequent minute, the chance of success drops by up to 10%.

"There's an obvious need for defibrillators to be stationed in large public places. But it's even more important to make them easily available for use at a local level by members of the community," says Dr Marsden.

"The Scottish Ambulance Service has a data base covering 35,000 cardiac arrest patients, gathered since AEDs were first introduced into Scotland in 1989. Our experience clearly underscores the importance of both early defibrillation and CPR in saving lives.

"Like New Zealand, we have a fairly rugged countryside and our urban areas, like yours, have high traffic densities. As a result, an ambulance can experience difficulties in reaching the scene of a cardiac arrest in time to do any good. 'First Responders' from within the community therefore have a hugely important role to play," he says.

Dr Marsden adds that the Scottish Ambulance Service's data base gives AEDs a 99% score for accuracy in determining whether a patient is suffering from ventricular fibrillation.

"There are some medical people who believe that the safest way to perform defibrillation is with the more costly manual defibrillator which requires a greater degree of skill and training to operate. But our experience supports the view that AEDs, with their easy-to-follow, audio and visual prompts, are safe and effective to use.

"The wide availability of low cost, easy-to-use, self-diagnosing AEDs will facilitate a tremendous increase in community programmes for early defibrillation with a huge potential for additional saved lives," he says.

According to Dr Marsden, Scottish Ambulance's data base shows that the overwhelming majority of cardiac patients who survived and were discharged from hospital, made a complete recovery, with only nine out of 5,000 survivors requiring institutional care.

Reporters please note: St John will launch its Cardiac Arrest Survival Programme at the Sky City Convention Centre, Auckland on Friday August 23, 1-2.45pm

For further information, Dr Marsden can also be contacted via:

Marty Smyth Planning & Performance Manager St John Northern Region 09 526 0527 ext 8469 027 222 5443

Linda Donaldson Public Relations Officer St John Northern Region 09 526 0528 ext 8435 025 290 9764

Released by Ian Morrison, Matter of Fact Communications Tel: 09 575 3223, Fax: 09 575 3220,

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