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Sessions to help save lives

Emily AceSouth Western Times
St John Donnybrook sub-centre chairman Ian Telfer and volunteer development officer Kathy Irvine teach Donnybrook-Balingup shire president Brian Piesse lifesaving skills.
Camera IconSt John Donnybrook sub-centre chairman Ian Telfer and volunteer development officer Kathy Irvine teach Donnybrook-Balingup shire president Brian Piesse lifesaving skills. Credit: Jon Gellweiler South Western Times/Bunbury Herald

St John Ambulance WA is embarking on an ambitious campaign to transform the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup into WA’s first CPR-capable community.

To make this a reality, volunteers will equip the Donnybrook community of more than 4200 residents with lifesaving skills through a series of free town hall training sessions and community events from September 8.

The campaign, named “Staying Alive in the Shire”, is designed to improve awareness and usage of Automated External Defibrillators (AED), which are proven to dramatically increase survival rates for cardiac arrest patients.

There are 15 defibrillator machines located throughout the shire – a figure St John hopes to double over the next month with the help of the Donnybrook-Balingup Shire Council, local businesses and the community.

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Sessions are open to anyone over the age of 12 and will run weekly at the Donnybrook Town Hall, St John’s Donnybrook sub-centre and by request at other community locations.

St John Donnybrook sub-centre chairman Ian Telfer said the initiative was about “the community helping themselves”.

“We know that early CPR and defibrillation improves survivability of a cardiac arrest by as much as five times, yet despite being incredibly easy to apply, many people don’t know how to use a defibrillator,” Mr Telfer said.

“We have set an ambitious target, but the message really is that we want everybody in the shire to have the confidence about their basic first aid skills and that gives people the greatest opportunity to survive.”

Mr Telfer said the campaign also aimed to increase AED availability in the shire.

“The placement of defibrillators is most effective when all the community is confident in using them,” he said.

“We are encouraging installation and registration of defibrillators at key community locations, including shopping centres, sporting clubs and local businesses.”

Cr Brian Piesse said if the initiative saved even one life, it would be a “worthwhile exercise”.

“Of course, the challenge will be getting the community to embrace this,” he said. “This shire does embrace these types of initiatives, but like everything there will have to be some stewardship and council is keen to work with St John’s to make that happen.

“Let’s rise to the occasion.”

Cr Piesse said St John had made the process as accessible as possible, so there was no “logical reason” not to participate.

Visit offers.stjohnambulance.com.au/donnybrook/ to register.

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