By Kyra Gillespie
Sudden cardiac arrest affects more than 30,000 Australians a year and has a survival rate of less than nine per cent.
That rate rises to 75 per cent if a defibrillator is used in the first two to three minutes.
With lives on the line, Edward O’Donohue MLC and Member for Eastern Victoria has put office funds towards housing an automatic external defibrillator (AED) at his Pakenham office.
“We want community members to know that it’s here,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“If there’s ever an emergency in the town we are just around the corner.”
Ken Rook recently survived a heart attack on Friday 29 June.
He has suffered Tetralogy of Fallot syndrome all his life – a defect that causes oxygen-poor blood to flow out of the heart and into the rest of the body.
As a result he often feels pain in his chest, but this time it was different. He was having a heart attack.
“That afternoon I felt a different kind of pain in the same spot, so I went straight to Casey Hospital to check on it,” Mr Rook said.
“The doctors checked everything and after a number of tests realised I’d had a heart attack.
“If I hadn’t acted on that pain I would have been dead the next morning.”
Ken has a long medical history; he had open heart surgery twenty years ago and his father died of a heart attack when he was just 32 years old.
He said that age, gender and family history are the key contributors to heart attacks.
“If you feel a pain in your chest don’t wait. There’s still a big problem around how people think about heart attacks; so many people assume that it’s a false alarm and don’t act until it’s too late.
“I’ve been told by a paramedic that he would rather turn out to a false alarm than not to be called at all.”
He said that increasing the number of available defibrillators in the community is a positive step to increasing survival rates.
“There’s only a very small window of opportunity to act when someone is experiencing a heart attack.
“The more that are around the better.”
For your nearest Automatic External Defibrillator, visit https://registermyaed.ambulance.vic.gov.au