Defibrillators save lives

Defibrillators are gifts that can keep on giving as long as they are ready for use and maintained on a regular basis.


Bonang Captain Laurie Reed with District 11 BASO Anthony Cousin

It would be heartbreaking to offer a potential life-saving piece of equipment to someone in need only to spend time unboxing a brigade defib, or finding the battery wasn’t installed or was past its expiration date.

The District 11 Health, Safety, Environment and Wellbeing (HSEW) Committee recently checked brigades’ first-aid kits and defibrillators. According to Commander Aaron Worcester, some brigades may have overlooked checking and maintaining their first-aid kits and defibs following the busy fire season.

“We want to provide some useful resources to give our brigades confidence that when they need to use their first-aid skills, they have the best tools in the best condition for the job,” Aaron said.

A pager message will now go out once a month from the district support staff to remind brigades to check their defibrillators. Feedback from group health and safety coordinators attending the District 11 HSEW meeting highlighted that a reminder pager message would be of great assistance as it can be difficult to manage at brigade level. Reminders for brigades to check their first-aid kits will also be sent via pager message twice a year.

District 11 BASO Anthony Cousin had a winning idea to support the checking process. Based on CFA’s PE Branch record card, Anthony designed two different coloured record cards that will be placed with either a first-aid kit or defib. When brigade health and safety
coordinators or other brigade members carry out their monthly inspections, they will now have a simple process to follow and cards to fill in. Green cards are for firstaid kits and blue cards are for the defibs.

As Anthony observed across a number of brigades in his patch, “Brigades need to look for out-of-date defibrillator batteries and pads, and everyone should understand the difference between the ‘install before’ date and the ‘shelf life’ date”.

Anthony also recommends writing the date the battery was first installed on the back of the battery using a permanent marker.

District Business Manager Vanessa McLeod will also coordinate support for replacement accessories such as batteries and pads.

“Where CFA has provided a defib, the district will pay for accessories, and where a brigade has purchased their own defib the district will order and process replacement parts via a recharge,” Vanessa said.

Options are being examined for restocking first-aid kits, with consideration being given to brigade finances and distances from suppliers such as chemists. Brigade members can contact their local district office for advice and support.

Author: Samantha Sutherland