Defibrillators just as important as first aid kits at work

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Workplace health and safety usually means keeping a first aid kit in a visible place and having a fire extinguisher on a wall.

But St John Ambulance Queensland is urging more workplaces to have defibrillators in the fight to save lives, especially in the construction industry.

The building sector is recognised as one of the most dangerous industries for working Queenslanders with many health risks.

Australian Institute of Building National president Paul Heather said the high-risk nature of the building industry meant workplace health had to be at the forefront of employers’ minds.

“Currently, AEDs (defibrillators) are not compulsory on Australian worksites,” he said.

“It’s particularly alarming for the construction industry where workers risk their lives every day when navigating loose wires, operating machinery and generally working in environments that at times can be unpredictable.

“If the deployment of AEDs to all major construction projects were to save a single life it would be worth it.” PRIME Group director Andy Taylor said keeping people across multiple work sites in Cairns was of the utmost importance to him, especially in light of sudden cardiac arrest having little or no symptoms.

“If we can increase the survival rate just by having a defibrillator available in the event of an emergency, then we are happy to do our bit to achieve this,” he said.

“We know a defibrillator (AED) is not compulsory, but it is a vital piece of emergency first aid equipment and the only definitive first aid treatment for cardiac arrest.

“I encourage the entire building and construction industry to place the welfare of employees above all else during National Safe Work Month and beyond.”

The case for defibrillators

DR ABC, an easy way to remember “danger, response, airways, breathing, CPR” is an acronym that anyone who has taken a first aid course is familiar with.

But not as many know that for improved cardiac arrest survival rates the acronym has to extend out to D for defibrillate.

Almost 15,000 Australians die unexpectedly from sudden cardiac arrest each year.

The heart illness usually has no symptoms or signs before it strikes, and when it does strike it can be deadly without the right emergency response.

A Galaxy Research survey found that only 25 per cent of workplaces have a defibrillator, and only a quarter of employees know how to use one.

The research also found:

• 81 per cent of Queenslanders surveyed believe that automatic external defibrillators should be made mandatory in the workplace

• 83 per cent of Queenslanders surveyed believe that automatic external defibrillators should be installed in construction sites

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