Graphic: Lady with chest full of medical supplies

New AEDs to enhance RFDS Medical Chests

Date published

16 May 2018
AED equipment

The basic knowledge and skills of all first-responders to a medical emergency can potentially save someone’s life, particularly in a remote location where specialist treatment is hundreds of kilometres away.

Coupled with First Aid and training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), possession of a RFDS Medical Chest provides enormous peace of mind to those living in some of the most remote regions.

In an exciting development, every RFDS Medical Chest located in South Australia will be complemented by the addition of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Sudden cardiac arrest can affect anyone at any time. An AED is a portable defibrillator that delivers an electrical current through a collapsed patient's chest, with the aim of shocking the heart back into its normal rhythm.

Combined with routine emergency response of CPR and emergency services calls, using an AED can significantly improve the chances of survival from cardiac arrest. Currently, only 10 per cent of Australians who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive – less in remote areas.

“AEDs are a potentially life-saving device that most people in metropolitan areas take for granted – they are typically available in airports, hotels and large shopping centres,” says Dr John Woodall, Chief Medical Officer, RFDS Central Operations.

Lady smiles with chest full of pharmaceutical items

Image: Petie Rankin, McDouall Peak Station, via Coober Pedy, with a RFDS Medical Chest.

“In a cardiovascular crisis, the detection of an abnormal and ‘shockable’ cardiac rhythm followed by prompt, appropriate, defibrillation can absolutely be life-saving,” Dr Woodall says.

“Studies show that improved public access to defibrillation doubles the survival rate of patients at one month post cardiac arrest, with survivors having a ‘favourable neurologic’ outcome,” he says.

“Informed by your First Aid training, you call for help and take turns providing CPR, applying forceful chest compressions at a 100 per minute,” he says. 

“Energetic CPR, now combined with the AED, will give the patient the best chance of survival whilst the Flying Doctor is on its way."

The purchase of the AEDs for over 80 RFDS Medical Chests throughout outback SA has been funded by the community fundraising efforts by employees of TAL, Australia’s leading life insurer and National Partner of the RFDS.

TAL is National Partner of the RFDS. In addition to its three-year corporate sponsorship, TAL employees embraced the fundraising challenge set by the company to help the RFDS save the lives of rural and remote Australians.

Their efforts raised more than $112,000 in the process – which, when matched defibrillator for defibrillator by the TAL Community Foundation, amounted to the 80 new AEDs.

“Thank you TAL. It’s wonderful to have the veryprompt recognition by a donor that (the AED) is a valuable innovation and to come behind us and help us deliver it,” Dr Woodall says.

Kent Griffin, TAL Chief Financial Officer and TAL Community Foundation council member says his company is “delighted” to be working in partnership with the RFDS. 

“The partnership between TAL and the RFDS brings together two organisations that share a focus on finding innovative ways to make a real difference,” Griffin says.

“We are delighted to have been able to contribute in a meaningful way to the RFDS, to help them deliver life-improving medical services and expertise to Australians when they need it
most.

“We look forward to building on the success of our ‘Insuring the heart of Australia’ campaign throughout our partnership with the RFDS.”