Defibrillators in all CCs by year end

Mr Gan (in white T-shirt) practising CPR at the Community First Responder Programme launch in Choa Chu Kang yesterday.
PHOTO: Defibrillators in all CCs by year end

If your loved one gets a heart attack, there will soon be more specialised equipment on hand, and more people around who could help save his life.

Two Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) - portable machines that send an electric shock to the heart to revive it - will be in each of the 107 community centres and clubs (CCs) by the end of this year, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday. Thousands will be trained to use them.

He was speaking at the launch of the Community First Responder Programme, a joint effort by the People's Association (PA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The programme will train 4,500 grassroots leaders in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of AEDs over the next two years, PA said. Residents are also encouraged to join these courses in CCs.

"When someone collapses... the closest at the scene would normally be bystanders and passers-by," said Mr Gan. "It would therefore be vital to ensure that there are more people trained in basic life-saving skills such as CPR to render immediate help before the ambulance arrives."

Nearly 3,000 people die from coronary heart disease in Singapore each year. About half collapse before they can reach a hospital for help. Quick intervention is critical. When a person's heart suddenly stops, his survival rate falls by 7 to 10 per cent for every minute that CPR is not administered or an AED is not used.

In a four-hour course held at CCs, residents and grassroots leaders will learn how to perform life-saving measures as well as how to use AEDs. Unlike traditional defibrillators, the AEDs at CCs can be used by a layperson who follows simple audio-visual commands on the device.

The programme is part of a Pre-hospital Emergency Care Transformation Plan by MOH and the Ministry of Home Affairs to boost care delivery even before patients reach the hospital.

This article was first published on May 26, 2014.
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