The Heart Foundation applauds a new initiative from Avis Rent A Car, that will help fight New Zealand's biggest killer – heart disease.
The rental car network is the provider to install life-saving defibrillators at 20 locations throughout New Zealand, including Tauranga and Rotorua branches and service centres.
And what's thought to be another first, in recognition of our growing Asian population and booming tourist numbers, a Chinese translation for the instructions will sit alongside the new defibrillators.
“Over the next four weeks we will be installing defibrillators into our branches where we feel they will offer the most benefit to our customers, staff and the wider community,” says Avis managing director Kathryn O'Neil who also credits the company's staff who championed the idea.
Auckland District Health Board resuscitation coordinator Gareth Jenkin, who set up an app listing defibrillator locations across the country, is thrilled at the prospect of an additional 20 defibrillators and believes they'll bring the national tally up to 7000.
“It's great to see Avis joining a range of companies in New Zealand who take their staff's and their customers' safety seriously by writing a cheque for $40,000 and purchasing 20 units.
“As we watch tourist numbers surge we would encourage other members of the tourism industry to follow the Avis example and consider installing defibrillators.
Defibrillators, like the iPad model purchased by Avis are designed to be so simple that anyone can operate them with no training. Having a Chinese translation available will save even more lives, adds Gareth.
Heart Foundation Heart Healthcare manager Kim Arcus is also pleased to see the defibrillators being installed because every 90 minutes a Kiwi will die from heart disease, and adding 20 defibrillators to the national stock “will potentially save lives”.
“The Heart Foundation is fully supportive of businesses that take the initiative to train staff in CPR and provide life-saving tools in their premises and educate people about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
“We are also keen to get the message out there that people must always call 111 regardless of how the patient has responded and to be aware of the signs.”
A man who understands the crucial role of defibrillators better than most is Warriors and former All Blacks physician Dr John Mayhew.
John believes he owes his own life to the presence of a defibrillator when in April last year he suffered a heart attack.
“It's wonderful to see New Zealand businesses like Avis putting their hands in their pockets for the wellbeing of not just their own staff and customers but all New Zealanders.
They are setting a positive example for the tourism industry and wider New Zealand businesses and they deserve a pat on the back!” he said.
The 20 Avis locations will display the recognised international symbol indicating that a defibrillator is onsite.
A training programme for Avis staff will accompany the defibrillator installations and include the importance of calling 111 alongside the use of a defibrillator.
WHAT IS CARDIAC ARREST?
Heart disease is New Zealand's biggest killer, claiming the lives of 6000 New Zealanders every year – more than one person every 90 minutes – while about 172,000 Kiwis are currently living with heart disease.
A cardiac arrest is an emergency. It is frequently due to ventricular fibrillation or ‘VF', a chaotic heart rhythm often caused by a heart attack which can be corrected by a defibrillator.
Symptoms of cardiac arrest can include chest discomfort, excessive sweating, shortness of breath and nausea. Women can also experience other less obvious symptoms including discomfort in the upper back, nausea, sweating and unusual fatigue.
For every minute without CPR or defibrillation, a patient's chance of survival falls by 7 to 10 per cent. When an AED is used within three minutes of cardiac arrest, approximately 75 per cent of patients survive.