Whilst other smart users may be busy snap chating, swiping right to date and leveling up on Candy Crush, there may be others in Victoria soon that could be using their phones to save lives. 2018 will see Victoria as the first Australian state to roll-out a first responder program in a bid to boost survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests.
The Victorian system will utilise smart phone technology and a process similar to others used elsewhere around the world. The system which integrates with 000 calls, relies of medically or first aid trained members of the public who have previously registered, to be notified through their GoodSam smart phone apps of cardiac arrest incidents located near by. These trusted first aiders then respond, providing CPR and other care where required, until ambulance paramedics arrive on scene. In some cases the system may also be able to send a responder to fetch an automated external defibrillator close by and take it directly to the patient.
Ambulance Victoria Chief Executive Officer Tony Walker believes that this system will help the ambulance service achieve even higher survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrest. “We know when someone is in cardiac arrest that every second counts. Early effective CPR greatly improves a cardiac arrest patient’s chance of survival. Quick intervention is the key to survival.” With Ambulance Victoria average response time of twelve and a half minutes, the ability of these first responders to provide CPR could be the difference between life and death for some casualties.
These public first responder systems can work and can improve casualty outcomes . The results of a Dutch SMS alert program found that when such first responders attended the scene of a cardiac arrest, survival jumped significantly from 16% to 27%.
However such programs are not without issues. A report into the preliminary implementation of the GoodSam program in London by their local ambulance ambulance service highlighted a number of potential issues. These included a low responser response rate, difficulty in responders finding and accessing the incident locations, and the emotional impact on these volunteer responders.
If you like to participant in the GoodSam program, Victoria Ambulance are now taking expressions of interest at their website.