NSW Government: Local Sport Defibrillator Grant Program

LIFE SAVING: The Local Sport Defibrillator Grant Program helped fund the purchase of 59 defibrillators in the Central West and Orana during 2018/19. Photo: FILE
LIFE SAVING: The Local Sport Defibrillator Grant Program helped fund the purchase of 59 defibrillators in the Central West and Orana during 2018/19. Photo: FILE

AT 55 years old Steve Hamson recently celebrated his second birthday after he "was dead for 43 minutes" two years ago.

He is a sports fanatic through and through - he plays, he coaches and he watches, but on August 5, 2017 he suffered a heart attack on the sidelines after he'd finished coaching.

The NSW Government's Local Sport Defibrillator Grant Program is aiming to save lives and so far nearly 1200 grants have been provided to help sporting clubs and councils purchase defibrillators.

During 2018/19 those funds helped 59 clubs and councils across the Central West and Orana purchase a defibrillator.

If there is one person who is convinced that defibrillators save lives, it's Mr Hamson.

"The defibrillator certainly would have contributed to me coming back. I was dead for 43 minutes," he said.

MIRACLE STORY: Blayney Rams first grade coach Steve Hamson. Photo: FILE

MIRACLE STORY: Blayney Rams first grade coach Steve Hamson. Photo: FILE

Luckily, he says, his heart attack was on the sidelines of Waratahs Sports Ground in Orange on a Saturday full of games.

Also lucky was the fact that he fell at the feet of two Charles Sturt University paramedic students and a registered nurse who teamed up to commence CPR and use a defibrillator until paramedics arrived.

"You hear of so many other stories of people who have the same heart attack and they die," Mr Hamson said.

From the onset of a cardiac arrest the sufferer will lose 10 per cent chance of surviving for every 60 second delay in using a defibrillator.

Red Cross state training manager Craig King

Red Cross state training manager Craig King said 30,000 cardiac arrests occur in Australia every year.

"From the onset of a cardiac arrest the sufferer will lose 10 per cent chance of surviving for every 60 second delay in using a defibrillator," he said.

Mr King said people in regional areas can be more at risk during a cardiac arrest due to distance.

LIFE SAVING: Bathurst Harness Racing chief executive officer Danny Dwyer and sponsorship and marketing manager Marianne Donnelly with their newly-purchased defibrillator. Photo: ALEX GRANT

LIFE SAVING: Bathurst Harness Racing chief executive officer Danny Dwyer and sponsorship and marketing manager Marianne Donnelly with their newly-purchased defibrillator. Photo: ALEX GRANT

Bathurst Harness Racing Club was among the region's grant recipients for a defibrillator during 2018/19.

Chief executive officer Danny Dwyer said while ambulance crews might attend every race meeting at the track, it is the patrons at the club's other regular functions he wanted to assist.

"There can be hundreds of people on site and the fact that we got one [defibrillator] it is great," he said.

"It was an easy process [to apply for the grant] and we're glad we've had the opportunity to get one."

Dubbo Clay Target Club, where members range in age from 14 to 90 years old, also purchased a defibrillator thanks to the grants.

"Age and our property's location was a big factor, we're 25 kilometres from town," club president Ben Fairman said.

LIFE SAVING: Dubbo Clay Target Club purchased a defibrillator in 2018/19 thanks to the NSW Government grants. Photo: DUBBO CLAY TARGET CLUB

LIFE SAVING: Dubbo Clay Target Club purchased a defibrillator in 2018/19 thanks to the NSW Government grants. Photo: DUBBO CLAY TARGET CLUB

"The defib we got is pretty self-explanatory and the big thing for us is you can't shock someone who doesn't need it."

Sport is a major pastime in the Mudgee region and Mid-Western Regional Council received grants to purchase 10 defibrillators during 2018/19.

A council spokeswoman said the intention is to have a permanently based defibrillator at all sporting precincts to increase the chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest.

LIFE SAVING: Mid-Western Regional Council mayor Des Kennedy and senior greenkeeper Josh Martin with the newly-purchased defibrillator at Glen Willow Stadium. Photo: JAY-ANNA MOBBS

LIFE SAVING: Mid-Western Regional Council mayor Des Kennedy and senior greenkeeper Josh Martin with the newly-purchased defibrillator at Glen Willow Stadium. Photo: JAY-ANNA MOBBS

"The first eight minutes after a person has a cardiac arrest are the most critical, and early access to CPR and defibrillation can increase the likelihood of survival by up to 75 per cent," she said.

"As Mudgee Hospital services a region of over 2500 square kilometres in size, if ambulances are occupied, wait time can significantly rise."

Mr Hamson may joke that he's just celebrated his second birthday, but he told Australian Community Media that he truly feels like he's been give a second chance at life.

He said agrees that defibrillators should be located at more sports grounds around the region, but thinks there is a better way to do it than by outright purchase with the help of a government grant.

"In Canada the [sports] clubs lease them off the universities for the season, there's no point having it there when there's no students," Mr Hamson said.

Find out more by visiting the Local Sport Defibrillator Grant Program online.

How does a defibrillator work?

In the event of a cardiac arrest a defibrillator will convert the heart back into a normal rhythm.

"As soon as you turn the machine on it'll give you verbal prompts in very simple language," Mr King said.

"They're designed to be used by bystanders.

"It's not only important to have the defibrillator, it's important to have the training behind you as well."

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