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Donations fund new paramedic kit for ambulances

by Georgia Weaver, reporting for the Christchurch Mail

St John  has installed 20 new top-of-the-line defibrillators in its Christchurch ambulances and rapid response vehicles.

The $23,000 machines were paid for with $400,000 of donations raised through the service’s supporters’ scheme and appeal weeks.

Service improvement manager Curt Ward, who is also an intensive care paramedic, said the new defibrillators were the “main piece of kit” for the vehicles and were used on average at 14 incidents a day.

“An ambulance without a defibrillator is like a fire truck without water,” he said.

The machines are used to shock patients in cardiac arrest to revert their heartbeat to a viable rhythm. They also monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature.

A key function of the life-saving machines is their ability to transmit data through the mobile phone network.

“A first responder can transmit information to an intensive care paramedic here in the control room and they can tell you what to do for the patient,” Ward said.

Ward said St John was grateful for the donations, and it was great to see it ploughed back into the community.

“We don’t use it ourselves. The gift of money ultimately goes back to them. It’s the circle of giving,” he said

In the last year, St John responded to over 50,000 incidents in Canterbury.