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Red Balloon Day fundraiser is all heart
This year’s Red Balloon Day fundraiser may prove to be a lifesaver for three small Victorian communities.
Just over $7068 was raised from the annual event, with the funds going towards the purchase of HeartStart defibrillators for Strathmerton, Inglewood and Apsley brigades.
“It’s a great asset for a town like ours that does not have an ambulance service,” said Strathmerton Captain Evan Bourchier
“It’s a piece of equipment you hope you don’t have to use, but if you do it could be the difference between someone living and someone dying.”
Inglewood’s immediate past Captain Brian Rodwell agreed, saying the defibrillator would enhance the lifesaving capacity of the brigade, which attends vehicle accidents.
With most of Inglewood’s 26 active members already trained in the use of the life-saving equipment, the brigade is now well-placed to respond in the event of attending to a cardiac arrest.
Statistics show that defibrillation within the first few minutes of sudden cardiac arrest increases the chance of survival to over 70%
The brigades will keep the defibrillators on their tankers, but they will also be valuable community assets when the tankers are stationed, with each of the 3 stations now identified by a sticker as having a defibrillator on hand.
“Our station is unmanned but there is always someone close by,” Brian said.
Evan said it was the same in Strathmerton, where a number of the brigade’s 34 active members are shift workers in the nearby Bega cheese factory.
The defibrillator was also warmly welcomed by both the Apsley Fire Brigade and local community, when it was handed over on 17 July, with Captain Brad Turner saying it was a much-needed resource for the community.
Brad thanked Red Balloon Day organiser Jody Hardiman for all her hard work recognising fireys and putting back into rural communities.
Jody started Red Balloon Day three years ago as a way to publically thank firefighters by purchasing and putting out a red balloon.
“It grew from there. People were asking for ‘Thank-you Fireys’ balloons, so we contacted a local promotional business to see if they could help out. We then decided to turn it into a charity with all profits going back to fire services right across Australia.”
Bendigo is Jody’s hometown, and is currently the ‘epicentre’ of Red Balloon Day, although the township of Nathalia also held a fundraising event this year.
“We would love to see more areas and brigades get involved and do their own fundraising with our merchandise as well.
“Ideally, we would love to see every town and area in Australia, not just Victoria, celebrate and acknowledge the hard work put in by our fireys,” she said.
Red Balloon Day is held on 28 February and all funds raised in Victoria are donated back to CFA. People can also purchase fundraising items all year around, with donations and profits from merchandise sold from 1 April counting towards next year’s fundraising total.