Defibrillators set to save lives

Victorian farming communities set to receive defibrillators

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IMPORTANT: Denise Leed, Pyramid Hill, says the average ambulance wait time is about 50 minutes.

IMPORTANT: Denise Leed, Pyramid Hill, says the average ambulance wait time is about 50 minutes.

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The ambulance wait times can be up to an hour in some locations.

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Successful applicants of a program to supply defibrillators to farming communities say the machines will make a real difference in isolated areas.

The defibrillators have been awarded to seven communities through a partnership between St John Ambulance and the Victorian Farmers Federation.

READ MORE: VFF set to provide seven life saving defibrillators

Denise Leed, Pyramid Hill, said the average wait time for an ambulance was about 50 minutes.

Two years ago her husband was killed when he was crushed by a tree.

Ms Leed said she was forced to wait about 45 minutes before an ambulance arrived.

"The day my husband died their ambulance wasn't available until it was too late," she said.

"I worked as a community health nurse here over 20 years ago when the hospital closed.

"If I got an ambulance under 50 minutes I thought I was going really well."

Six weeks ago she broke her leg and again waited nearly an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

"We've got one of the lowest response times," she said.

"They might be meeting their targets 28 per cent of the time but I tell you what in an emergency it's far too slow."

The Loddon shire also had some of the lowest life expectancy rates in the state, she said.

When her husband was killed the first responder to reach the farm was the fire brigade, but they were not equipped with a defibrillator.

After enquiring about what was available she made the decision to apply.

"It would have been good to have it when my husband was crushed," she said.

"I'd never used a chainsaw before and I actually had to cut the main boughs of the tree off him before we could drag him out.

"At least we would have known if it was futile, what we were doing."

The town has a population of about 450 people.

The defibrillator is expected to arrive on September 1 and Ms Leed is hoping to keep it at a new amenities block at the caravan park so it can be easily accessed.

"There's also the swimming pool and we've also got tennis courts and the hill is a popular spot for tourists to go walking - they're all not far from there," she said.

"Because of Covid people are travelling more around Victoria so it will be great to have that there.

"Hopefully it will never get used, but in an emergency the sooner you do defibrillation the better the outcome is.

"The less time wasted finding one, the better."

Other successful communities that will receive defibrillators include Barwite, Nhill, Chetwynd, Derrinallum, Tambo Crossing and Fish Creek.

Ms Leed said it was important for communities to look after each other.

"When you live out in the country you get a little bit forgotten about, you tend to take for granted that that's the risk of living out here," she said.

"It's just a timely reminder that we need to be taking responsibility for our health and to be aware of what we can do to make our communities safer and reduce the isolation in some way."

St John Ambulance Victoria chief executive Gordon Botwright said St John representatives would provide training to locals.

"As much as we hope these devices never need to be used, we are pleased seven more defibrillators are now available across Victoria," he said.

"The defibrillators will provide another critical safety measure and enable first responders to act immediately in an emergency."

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