Seven defibrillators were distributed in Flaxmere yesterday and 70 people are set to be trained over the coming weeks as a five-month community project comes to fruition.
The Flaxmere Licensing Trust and Trust House Community Enterprise funded the $33,000 project, and collaborated with St John to distribute the life-saving machines in prominent public places around Flaxmere.
The defibrillators, or Automated External Defibrillator (AED), were compact portable devices that issued a safe electric shock to restart the heart during a cardiac arrest.
St John central region district operations manager Stephen Smith said people who went into cardiac arrest needed immediate CPR and early access to a defibrillator.
"If someone's heart has stopped beating effectively, there can be less than 10 minutes available to reverse the chance to save their lives.
"CPR, defibrillators, and people feeling comfortable using them, are what's going to make the difference. The big flash ambulances are the icing on the cake. If you don't have any one on the ground when something happens, a lot of the work we do is going to be futile," he said.
St John has already started to train some of the 70 nominated community members in the use of defibrillators and CPR.
St John tutor and facilitator Kathie Benson said defibrillators did not require special training as the machine talked the operator through the procedure. But training familiarised people with the machines so that they would not be scared to use one in an emergency.
Brian Morgan was one man who knew the value of community-based defibrillators. It recently saved his life after he suffered a cardiac arrest on Waiohiki Rd during a Sunday morning cycle. A defibrillator was located at nearby Napier Golf Course, and its quick administration coupled with CPR, provided critical assistance until emergency services arrived.
More than 1000 New Zealanders went into cardiac arrest outside a hospital every year and only 8 per cent survived.