Rotary aims to save breaking hearts this Valentine’s Day

Published: Mon 13 Feb 2017 11:05 AM
Rotary aims to save breaking hearts this Valentine’s Day
Rotary clubs in Auckland, with help from high profile doctor John Mayhew, are taking aim at New Zealand’s leading cause of adult death with a heart-warming initiative today.
The country’s largest Rotary district is launching Heart Savers, a project aimed at increasing the number of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in the community.
Rotary District 9920 Governor Roger Harvey says sudden cardiac arrest kills approximately 1500 Kiwis per year and Heart Savers is an obvious initiative for Rotary because it has the potential to save lives.
“An AED, in conjunction with CPR, will provide the best chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest. But we are a long way short of where we should be with the numbers of AEDs in Kiwi communities,” Mr Harvey says.
Best practice standards suggest there should be 10,000 AEDs in New Zealand but current numbers sit at about 6,000. The more AEDs there are within communities, the more quickly they can be accessed to save more lives.
Rotary District 9920, which covers most of Auckland and seven Pacific Island countries from Kiribati to French Polynesia, is aiming to put a dent in that deficit by having each of its 53 clubs place an AED in its local community.
“As the country’s largest Rotary district, we’re leading the way and we hope other districts throughout New Zealand will follow suit,” Mr Harvey says.
The district is co-ordinating the project with each individual club being challenged to fund an AED and find a suitable location for it in their community.
One person who knows first-hand the value of AEDs in the community is NZ Warriors doctor and former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew, whose own life was saved by an AED during 2016.
‘Doc’ Mayhew suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while working out at his local gym in April last year and was only saved by a fellow gym-goer who ran 300 metres to fetch the nearest AED, using it to resuscitate him.
“The great thing is, anyone can use an AED – you don’t need to be medically qualified,” he says. “You just need to know where your nearest one is and get it to your patient as quickly as possible.”
But Mayhew, now a determined ambassador for Heart Savers, says we simply need more of them. His mission is to make sure the numbers of AEDs available to everyday Kiwis increases as quickly as possible, which is why he’s thrown his support behind Rotary’s Heart Savers project.
He says the scary thing is, sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time, with no warning.
“I was a pretty fit and healthy guy, running once a week and regularly working out at the gym. You just can’t predict who it will happen to.”
“There’s also a myth that AEDs are only needed for older people but sudden cardiac arrests do not discriminate.”
Five-year-old Aucklander Jasmine Curran suffered a cardiac arrest in January last year and was saved thanks to a defibrillator located less than 100 metres from where she collapsed.

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