Page 524 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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that there will be an emergency services response quickly, and we have good travel capacity as well in the ACT.

The availability of lifesaving AEDs is an important topic for consideration, and I thank Ms Castley for highlighting this today. My amendment, while omitting Ms Castley’s call on the government in relation to mandates, does call on the government to continue to support government schools and agencies to increase the availability of defibrillators in their facilities, and to consider ways to increase public awareness of the use of, and access to, defibrillators to save lives, in consultation with St John Ambulance and the Heart Foundation.

The government, of course, will explore how we can build on our work to date in expanding the availability of AEDs in Canberra, led by evidence about how this can best be undertaken strategically to ensure the best outcomes for Canberrans.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (3.06): I rise to speak to Ms Castley’s motion calling on the ACT government to put defibrillators in our public schools and workplaces, and I thank Ms Castley for the motion. The Greens will be supporting the amendment to the motion circulated by Minister Stephen-Smith, which calls on the government to continue to support access to this lifesaving technology.

Sudden cardiac arrest is alarmingly common. As Ms Castley rightly points out, between 22,000 and 30,000 Australians pass away from sudden cardiac arrest each year. In the ACT St John estimates that more than 100 Canberrans run the same risk—that is, two Canberrans every week.

Proper access to defibrillators is essential to people’s survival in the event of sudden cardiac arrest. It can happen anywhere and at any time. In fact it is estimated that roughly 80 per cent of sudden cardiac arrests happen in homes and public places, well removed from specialised hospital equipment.

Time is also a crucial part of an effective response. Defibrillator efficacy drops rapidly after the first 10 minutes of cardiac arrest. If someone suffering an arrest receives treatment within the first two minutes, their chances of survival sit at around 80 per cent. Within four minutes, it drops to 60 per cent and, by the time you reach eight minutes, their chances fall to only 20 per cent.

Here in Australia, St John estimates that between five and 12 per cent of cardiac arrest victims survive. While this increases to as much as 25 per cent if there are bystanders, the survival rate is as high as 60 per cent in other countries. In the ACT, the witnessed sudden cardiac arrest survival rate is around seven per cent. Increasing access to defibrillators makes a substantial difference to these survival rates.

At this point I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the ACT’s first responders. Their job is not easy at the best of times; and, lord knows, they have had a particularly challenging job maintaining public health over the last two years. I am grateful to those who operate under these high-stress, high-intensity circumstances to save lives. My constituents in Tuggeranong, and in the Canberra community more broadly, are all better for your work and your professionalism.

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