Posted on 25. Oct, 2010 in News

A re-elected Brumby Labor Government will install 150 defibrillators in public venues across the State and – in an Australian first – new life-saving drugs will be administered by MICA paramedics as part of an $8.2 million package aimed at increasing the survival rate of heart attack victims.

The package will also include a further campaign to raise awareness about the early warning signs of heart attacks and strokes, and the installation of 12 lead ECG machines in all ambulances.

Health Minister Daniel Andrews announced the commitment today during a visit to Chadstone Shopping Centre to mark the installation of 10 public access defibrillators at the busy centre.

“Heart disease and stroke are some of our biggest killers in Victoria but we know that minutes can count when it comes to saving lives,” Mr Andrews said.

“Each year, more than 3500 Victorians – or one every 2.5 hours – experience a cardiac arrest.

“Most deaths occur before a person reaches hospital, with about 500 people experiencing a cardiac arrest in a public place each year.

“Early use of defibrillators is one of the key steps in the chain of survival.

“For every minute that somebody is in cardiac arrest, without intervention, their chances of survival drop by 10 per cent. Every minute counts and accessible defibrillators in public places save precious minutes.

“When somebody has a cardiac arrest it is critical that they be given CPR and defibrillation as soon as possible before an ambulance arrives.

“That’s why we will provide $500,000 to support the installation of over 150 public access defibrillators across Victoria, specifically in large workplaces including shopping centres and other large public facilities.

“Through widespread placement of public access defibrillators throughout Victoria, early treatment will be able to be administered and more lives can be saved.”

Mr Andrews said the Brumby Labor Government had already invested in the installation of Public Access Defibrillators in over 20 venues across the state including Melbourne Airport, the Shrine of Remembrance, Healesville Sanctuary, train stations and sports centres.

“These defibrillators at Chadstone Shopping Centre and across other venues are about saving lives,” he said.

Mr Andrews said a re-elected Brumby Labor Government would invest $3.4 million to equip all Victorian ambulances with 12-lead ECG and train all paramedics to use this vital technology.

“This means all ECG tests can be performed by paramedics and the results transmitted to heart specialists while the patient travels to a hospital, and if the heart attack is confirmed the patient can be taken immediately to the cardiac catheter lab to begin treatment earlier,” he said.

“This will save lives, drastically cutting the time between a heart attack victim’s arrival at hospital and life-saving treatment.”

Mr Andrews said a re-elected Brumby Labor Government would provide a further $1.2 million to support the Heart Foundation and the Stroke Foundation to educate more Victorians on how to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.

“Recent Heart Foundation research demonstrates that many Australians are unfamiliar with the warning signs of heart attack,” he said.

“The research highlighted that only 70 per cent of people surveyed recognised chest pain as a key warning sign and less than half were aware of other typical warning signs such as arm, shoulder, back and jaw pain.

“The same research alarmingly showed that approximately only 20 per cent of all people surveyed would call triple zero if they were experiencing chest discomfort with associated dizziness or jaw pain with associated sweating.

“We want more people to recognise the symptoms and seek immediate treatment, which is vital to surviving heart attacks or strokes.”

Mr Andrews said the capabilities of all MICA paramedics across Victoria, through a $3.1 million boost, will be trained to administer potentially life-saving thrombolytic drugs to dissolve clots in heart attack patients.

“The risk of death and disability can be reduced by the use of thrombolytics within twelve hours after onset of symptoms, and the shorter the treatment delay the greater the benefit,” he said.

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