Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
The Mckell institute report on the need for defibrillators on live electrical worksites ( actually worksites in general) was written for the ETU NSW Branch as a result of our 2013 conference discussion to campaign for Defibs. The ETU believes the report is comprehensive and argues a very strong case for the provision of defibrillators.What is an AED for?
AEDs are primarily used to treat individuals experiencing ventricular fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation is when the rhythm of the heart becomes chaotic and an individual begins to experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). When this occurs, the only way to restore the heart to a normal rhythm is to defibrillate the individual’s heart and re-start its normal rhythm.
Why should my workplace invest in an AED, SCA doesn’t sound that common?
Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of sudden death in Australia, ahead of prostate cancer, bowel cancer, breast cancer and road deaths. 23,000 to 33,000 people die from SCA every single year and 75% of these occur outside of the hospital setting. A significant proportion of these fatalities occur in the workplace.
For individuals experiencing SCA outside of the hospital setting, the survival rate is a worryingly low 6%. The main reason survival rates are so low is that the odds of survival decrease by about 10% for every minute that the patient’s heart does not receive defibrillation. In NSW, the median ambulance response time is 10.93 minutes. For most people, quick access to an Automated External Defibrillator literally is the difference between life and death.
In contrast, for locations where AEDs have already been rolled out the survival rate has been as high as 86%. Some workplaces present higher risks than others. Ventricular fibrillation can be brought on by electric shock, which indicates a heightened risk for those employees working with live electricity. Electrocution is responsible for 15% of all workplace fatalities in the construction sector, while workers in the electrical transmission and distribution networks are also at high risk of fatality in the form of electrocution.
In many of these cases, fatality is entirely preventable through the use of an AED. Sometimes the individual is fortunate enough to survive until an ambulance arrives, but in most cases, even well trained individuals administering CPR cannot keep the patient alive until the paramedics reach the worksite. AEDs reduce risk and increase the likelihood of survival, particularly in instances of electric shock.
For more information, please download the reports.