Kangaroo Island: Australia's first HeartSafe Community

HeartSafe: Dave and Leeza Irwin of Raptor Domain support the project. Photo: Supplied..
HeartSafe: Dave and Leeza Irwin of Raptor Domain support the project. Photo: Supplied..

Over the last 18 months on Kangaroo Island, the volunteer team at HeartSafeKI, comprising Dr Tim Leeuwenburg and Trish Leeuwenburg along with Michael Berden, has trained over 600 community members in CPR.

They have also developed partnerships with community groups and small businesses to place defibrillators in townships and at key tourist locations.

Dr Leeuwenburg said he was proud of the community in embracing this project.

“Thanks to the efforts of Lions, CWA, Progress Associations and KI Council we now have public access defibrillators available across Kangaroo Island,” he said.

“Some tourism ventures, notably Dave and Leeza Irwin of Raptor Domain, have also supported the project as a small business, recognising that sudden cardiac arrest can affect tourists as well as locals.”

Several other tourism businesses are looking at purchasing defibrillators, to mitigate against the risk of sudden cardiac death on-premises or when sightseeing.

“As a result, Kangaroo Island is Australia’s first HeartSafe community,” Dr Leeuwenburg said.

A map has been prepared, which will be circulated around the island, to show the locations of these 24/7 public access defibrillators.  

With the financial support of KI Council and the Office of the Commissioner for Kangaroo Island, HeartSafe will also place this map in the forthcoming Kangaroo Island Visitors Guide.  

HeartSafeKI has also registered all Public Access Defibrillators with SA Ambulance Service and the GoodSAMapp, allowing 000 callers to be directed to their nearest 24/7 defibrillator.

Commissioner Wendy Campana and Kangaroo Island Mayor Peter Clements are pleased to support this project.

“Having a network of defibrillators and a trained community means that Kangaroo Island is now recognised as a HeartSafe location, giving locals and visitors alike the best chance of survival, despite geographical isolation,” they said in a joint statement.

Kangaroo Island residents can attend HeartSafeKI training sessions to learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator. 

Would you know what to do in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest?  

Cardiac arrest (the heart stopping beating) has a small window of opportunity for treatment.  

Survival drops by 10 per cent for every minute that goes by without effective CPR and defibrillation.   

In Australia, survival rates from cardiac arrest are around eight per cent - whereas in some countries survival rates of around 70 per cent are achieved.

The best chance at survival from a cardiac arrest is not due to big ticket items such as hospitals and helicopters, but instead goes to the core of community.

The important first step on the ‘chain of survival’ relies on community members trained in CPR, along with the availability of public access defibrillators 24/7.

Businesses and clubs on Kangaroo Island can become part of the HeartSafe community.

Make sure defibrillators in your club or workplace are registered with HeartSafeKI and consider making them available as a Public Access Defibrillator

Encourage the placement of signage indicating the location of defibrillators in your township

Advocate for major tourism operators to make public access defibrillators available at visitor destinations, whether in hotel accommodation, at iconic sites or even on tour buses.

Contact the team at heartsafeki@internode.on.net.