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Goodstart Blackmans Bay the heartbeat of their community

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Heart disease is often thought of as something which develops later in life, but the prevalence of childhood heart disease (CHD) is surprisingly high.

In fact, according to Heart Kids  about 3,000 children are born with a heart defect each year and four lives are lost each week.

These worrying figures were front of mind for Goodstart Blackmans Bay centre director Emma Callanan, when a child who suffered from CDH was enrolled in her centre.

Ensuring the child’s safety in the centre was Ms Callanan’s top priority, but after a little research it became evident that support for both children and adults with these conditions was lacking.

“When the family were enrolling, we started our research and we discovered there wasn’t a defibrillator in our entire community.

“We learned that access to a defibrillator within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest made a huge difference in survival rates. We realised we need to be more supportive and inclusive to children with these needs.”

Ms Callanan successfully applied for a community grant from Kingborough Council, allowing the centre to purchase a defibrillator and training from St John First Aid.

Now the centre is registered on Ambulance Tasmania's Early Access to Defibrillation Program, which means that if a cardiac arrest occurs within a few blocks of the centre, the centre will be alerted to take their defibrillator to the scene to help the patient.

“It hasn’t happened yet and hopefully we’ll never have to use it, but our defibrillator is registered on the network and all centre staff are trained to use it if needed,” Ms Callanan said.

“We’re happy we’ve been able support the family and contribute to the community in this way.

“It’s highlighted to us that there’s a real need to have this sort of equipment more readily available in the community, particularly in places where young children are cared for.”

If you’d like to learn more about defibrillators or know where to find one in your community, visit the Australia Wide First Aid website.
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