17 December 2020

People in cardiac arrest could have both paramedics and other emergency services workers trained in the use of a defibrillator dispatched to their aid, under a new program.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the NSW Ambulance Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program utilises other agencies and their equipment to get help to patients fast.

“In a cardiac arrest, every second counts so the sooner emergency personnel can administer CPR and get a defibrillator on the patient, the better,” Mr Hazzard said.

“There are over 4000 automated defibrillators with our other emergency services so while an ambulance is enroute, if another responder can help, they can be dispatched.

“Partnering with other emergency services who might be just around the corner to the patient makes sense, and takes advantage of their defibrillators and first-aid training.”

When NSW Ambulance dispatch a crew following a Triple Zero (000) call, it will also alert other emergency services through their control centres, should they have a responder closer.

The State Emergency Service (SES) and the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) are the first two emergency agencies to join the NSW Ambulance-run program.

Consultation is also underway with other emergency agencies, including Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW), the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Marine Rescue NSW (MRNSW).

NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan said similar PAD programs have been successful overseas and in other states and territories in boosting survival rates.

“Overseas results show defibrillation occurring up to two minutes before paramedics have arrived has boosted the chance of survival by up to 20 per cent,” Dr Morgan said.

“About 8,000 people in NSW suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital each year and most of these patients do not survive, so if this program saves one life, it is a success.

“We know other juridictions that have high survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrest have PAD programs, where paramedics and emergency services work in unison.”