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New Zealand Previews High-Tech Life-Saver

New Zealand Previews High-Tech Life-Saver

For immediate release: 23 August 2002

New Zealanders were amongst the first in the world to view the very latest in life-saving technology, when St John unveiled its new Cardiac Arrest Survival Programme at its Annual Convention in Auckland today (Friday).

Weighing-in at just 2 Kg, the LIFEPAK CR Plus is the most recent model AED (Automatic External Defibrillator), for use in restarting the hearts of cardiac victims.

Members of the public can use the machine to help save lives even when ambulances are delayed by factors such as dense traffic or distance.

"The LIFEPAK CR Plus is so new that its official international launch will not be until next month. New Zealand is the first country in which the public is being given the opportunity to view it," says Ross Gunn, Managing Director of PDI Medical, which is to import and distribute the device.

AEDs work by sending a controlled electric shock through the chest in cases of ventricular fibrillation, the most common form of cardiac arrest. Cardiac victims 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%.

Smaller than a laptop computer, the LIFEPAK CR Plus can be easily and safely operated by ordinary New Zealanders, including older children. The device has clear audio and visual prompts that take users step-by-step through the few simple actions required of them.

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St John's Cardiac Arrest Survival Programme will involve the organization's area committees in raising funds for the local purchase of the new AED, which St John will also market for emergency use in public places, including shopping malls, airports, sports stadiums, sports clubs and large corporate premises.

"We're delighted to be working with St John to make these life-saving machines more readily available. New Zealand is ahead of the rest of the Asia Pacific region but behind the United States and parts of Europe in ensuring easy access to this kind of technology," says Mr Gunn.

As an example of the extensive deployment of AEDs in the United States, he cites Chicago's O'Hare Airport, where every part of the complex is within 90 seconds fast walk of a defibrillator.

"One of the last acts of the Clinton Administration was to make the stationing of defibrillators mandatory in Federal buildings. A large number of individual American states have also legislated to make the technology easily accessible," he says.

"Here in New Zealand there have been a number of localised initiatives to ensure defibrillators are widely available, including, most recently, Wellington's Lifesaver Trust.

"However, until now, we've lacked a national focus for providing immediate defibrillation facilities in public places. This is despite the ever-increasing difficulties ambulances face in getting through traffic and despite the often long distances they need to travel in rural areas, as precious seconds tick away," he says.

St John is to supply the LIFEPAK CR Plus and provide training in its use for a price of just $5,000.

"It's hard to think of a better or more pressing health and safety investment for any person or organization responsible for managing a place where the public congregates. And it's similarly difficult to think of a more useful focus for local level fundraising," says Mr Gunn.

For further information, please contact:

Ross Gunn Managing Director PDI Medical 029 335 8000

Graham Billings Director of Health Services and Marketing St John Northern Region 027 220 3195

Linda Donaldson Public Relations Officer St John Northern Region 025 290 9764

Released by Ian Morrison, Matter of Fact Communications Tel: 09 575 3223, Fax: 09 575 3220, Email:matfact@ww.co.nz

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