Calls increase for more defibrillators

Inspector Brian Parsell, from the NSW Ambulance Service. Picture: Natalie Roberts
Inspector Brian Parsell, from the NSW Ambulance Service. Picture: Natalie Roberts

BELIEVE it or not, the safest place in Australia to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest is at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Due to the easy access to an automatic external defibrillator (AED), if it happens at the MCG you have a 70 per cent chance of survival.

It may sound like reasonable odds, but with the general survival rate for Australia at just under 10 per cent, there are calls for big changes.

For three years the Red Cross has campaigned to have defibrillators introduced to schools, and it is something Inspector Brian Parsell from the NSW Ambulance Service at Castle Hill says can only be a good thing.

READ MORE: Click here to read more about Brian Parsell.

Inspector Parsell says Australia is a long way behind the rest of the world in survival rates from cardiac arrest.

"We don't have enough people trained in CPR and the access to defibrillators is not as good as other countries," he said.

"In Seattle in the US for example, the walkout rate is about 70 per cent, and that's because most people are educated in how to use it and they have access to AEDs."

"We don't have enough people trained in CPR and the access to defibrillators is not as good as other countries"

Brian Parsell

He says an AED is easy to use and children as young as 10 can operate them.

"It has step-by-step instructions that teach you how to use it," Inspector Parsell, of Beaumont Hills, said.

"Training is ideal, but there have been multiple cases around the world where a life has been saved because someone has had the courage to grab one and use it."

Inspector Parsell said the first step in the chain of survival was to start compression, call emergency services and then use a defibrillator.

He said an ambulance could never beat someone on the scene taking action. He encouraged people not to be afraid to use a defibrillator.

"It's a relatively cheap item and really — what's the price of saving a life?"

In his time with the Ambulance Service, Inspector Parsell has helped in the development and training of operational paramedics in pre-hospital clinical practice, and has provided recommendations which have resulted in improvements in the delivery of care to patients including the introduction of specific pharmaceuticals, such as Penthrane.

He was awarded an Ambulance Service Medal on Australia Day.

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