The smartphone app helping Victoria’s off-duty paramedics save lives

ABC News – 29th May 2018 – By Stephanie Chalkley-Rhoden

PHOTO: Keith Young said he had no idea that Darren, a paramedic, lived nearby. (ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Keith Young knows that in matters of life or death, survival can come down to seconds.

While preparing dinner in the kitchen for the final time before a planned holiday with his wife in Queensland, he blacked out.

Mr Young, from Narre Warren South in Melbourne’s outer east, had just suffered from cardiac arrest.

While his frantic family called triple-0 and started CPR, a neighbour’s phone vibrated.

Darren, a paramedic, had just got home from work and was in his family toy room when he received the alert.

“I got on my pushbike and grabbed a pair of gloves out of my first aid kit in the garage and rode up the street to Keith’s house, where his family were already [giving] CPR to Keith on the floor,” he said.

“So I just assisted them and took over with more CPR until the ambulance arrived.”

The phone alert that prompted Darren to act came from the GoodSAM app.

It sends an alert to registered off-duty first responders — like paramedics, nurses, doctors and surf lifesavers — to notify them that someone nearby has suffered from cardiac arrest, after a call is made to triple-0.

PHOTO: The app was trialled with paramedics but is now available to other first responders. (ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

The three closest users are given the address, in the hope they can provide assistance until an ambulance arrives.

The app is being rolled out by Victoria’s emergency service agencies following a four-month trial involving more than 1,100 paramedics across the state.

The agencies, including Ambulance Victoria and the CFA, are now looking to increase the pool of registered professionals.

Those taking part are volunteers.

‘He was already turning grey’

Mr Young was carving meat when everything went dark.

His wife, Catherine, was in the other room when she heard a thud.

PHOTO: Keith Young was cooking dinner for his wife Catherine when he collapsed. (ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

“Keith was on the floor, totally non-responsive, and he was already turning grey,” Catherine said.

“And I just screamed to the children, who are adults, to call triple-0 straight away.”

The family began CPR with the guidance of the operator before Darren arrived at their doorstop. They were shocked, but relieved.

“I thought, Oh my god, who is this in my house? And just his whole calm manner — he took over, he instructed us — his professionalism brought me down to a calmer level,” she said.

Mr Young remembers none of it.

“But I know from putting the story together after the fact … that the relief Darren gave to my family, I just can’t thank him enough,” he said.

PHOTO: Ambulance Victoria CEO Tony Walker said the app’s users were all trained professionals (ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

The ambulance arrived four minutes after Darren, who acknowledged his role but credited Mr Young’s survival to his quick-thinking family.

Ambulance Victoria CEO Tony Walker said the GoodSAM app was designed for incidents like cardiac arrest or choking, when the first few minutes were critical.

“We know there’s a 10 per cent reduction in survival for cardiac arrest for every minute you don’t have CPR or defibrillation,” he said.

“We’re getting to cases more quickly … but to get an ambulance to someone in those first two minutes of cardiac arrest is almost impossible, so we rely on the community to be able to provide that response for us.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the trial had been a great success.

“Rolling this out more broadly, I think, is going to do wonderful things to save lives and to change lives,” he said.

Mr Young has since recovered and says he’s now approaching life with “a big smile”.

“I get up and have breakfast and then look at the day,” he said.


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Using a Defibrillator to restart the heart is now part of first aid training

In Australia, more than 30,000 cardiac arrests occur every year, with fewer than 10% surviving to leave hospital (Ambulance Victoria, 2016).

In fact, 177 Victorians were saved in a year due to first aiders starting CPR. In a cardiac arrest the heart is no longer pumping, blood flow stops, the casualty loses consciousness and will not be breathing normally. This person will die, unless within a short period of time blood flow is restored. Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will restore some blood flow.

For a short period of time, the non-pumping heart may have an abnormal rhythm, ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF) which may be “shocked” by defibrillation (a type of electric shock) back to a normal pumping rhythm.

Rescuers (professional, trained layperson or untrained person) cannot tell by looking at a casualty whether the casualty has a “shockable” rhythm or a “non-shockable” rhythm (where defibrillation will have no benefit for the casualty).

One of the functions of an AED is to determine whether the casualty has a “shockable” or “non-shockable” rhythm. The time to defibrillation is a key factor that influences survival. For every minute defibrillation is delayed, there is approximately 10% reduction in survival if the patient is in cardiac arrest due to VT or VF, (shockable rhythms). CPR alone will not save a person in VT/VF, so a defibrillator should be applied to all casualties as soon as available so that a shock can be delivered if required. The development of easy to operate AEDs has led to defibrillation being included in basic life support teaching. AEDs can accurately identify the cardiac rhythm as “shockable” or “non-shockable” and provide verbal and visual prompts of the next steps (e.g. shock advised, or no shock advised, and continue with CPR).

Many cardiac arrest patients can be saved if persons nearby immediately recognise they are in cardiac arrest, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance, perform CPR and use an AED.

Each of these stages “is a link” in a “chain of survival” that provide the best chance of survival.

Minutes count and members of the public along with first responders represent the front line in resuscitation. Defibrillators (AEDs) are easy to use, compact, portable and very effective. They are designed to be used by lay persons; the machines guide the rescuer through the process by verbal prompts and visual prompts. They are safe for the casualty/victim and will not allow a shock to be given unless it is required. They are designed to be stored for long periods without use and require very little routine maintenance.

In Australia, AEDs have been installed in many busy public places, workplaces, or other areas where the public might have access. The intention is to improve early access to defibrillation. This strategy of placing AEDs in locations where they can be used by a lay person is known as Public Access Defibrillation (PAD). Allowing the use of AEDs by members of the public without prior formal training may be lifesaving. However, the use of an AED by trained members of the public and professional responders is encouraged.

Purchasing this life saving equipment in a work place is vital.

There are several factors to consider when contemplating purchasing and installing an AED, some of these considerations. AEDs should be placed or stored where they are most likely to be needed. They must be accessible with a minimum of delay.

All persons working at the site need to be aware of their purpose and location, and the steps to be taken should someone suffer cardiac arrest. This will include calling Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance service and activating the organisation’s emergency response plan – i.e. to commence CPR on any casualty who is unresponsive, and not breathing normal.

We would like to thank the Australian Resuscitation Council for this information.

You can save a life


When someone has a medical or traumatic event that affects his or her ability to breathe or heart to function, seconds count. Paramedic response times varies around  Central Goldfields Victoria (from minutes, to over an hour!). Maryborough has some of the fastest times with 50% of immediate life threatening incidents beings responded to within 13 minutes; but even 13 minutes could be too late in such circumstances.

Basic life support while awaiting the emergency services saves lives ! There are thousands of “Good Samaritans” around the world with these life saving skills – there might be someone less than a few hundred feet from you now who could help – if only they knew that help was needed. That’s where the GoodSAM App comes in … download the GoodSAM Alerter from your App Store or Google Play now and register. The GoodSAM Alerter can be used right across Australia and even while overseas.

Through the GoodSAM Smartphone app, trained first responders (who may be off duty) including doctors, nurses, firefighters, paramedics, medics, police officers and medical students can register to be alerted to incidents in their surrounding area and could be on scene within minutes. With a built-in Defibrilocator function, app users can also easily identify registered public access defibrillators.

Tom Aczel of Emergency Medical Response said: “GoodSAM is set to revolutionise our ability to get help immediately to a patient and improve outcomes. Harnessing the community for the benefit of the community. Effectively what the app does is enable someone to shout for help, really loudly – even through walls – so a responder in the car wash will know that the man in the coffee shop next door is having a cardiac arrest.

“Opening an airway and administering basic life support can save lives if done quickly enough and all around us are people who have these life-saving skills that could be put to good use in an emergency. These Good Samaritans can provide vital assistance until such time as the emergency services arrive on scene. GoodSAM automatically alerts the three nearest responders to the emergency.”

For more, see the GoodSAM App website at:

Hoax Drug Overdose Oct 29, 2013 – EMR Community Callout

EMR received a Hoax Call @ 11:50pm (23:50hrs) on Tuesday night,October 29 from a female stating that her friend had taken drugs and wasn’t breathing properly and had a weak pulse. She said she doesn’t believe in taking drugs but her friend had and wasn’t well. She said she had called 000 and been told that the ambulance would take an hour to reach them. I asked their location and was told near the front of the Moliagul Hotel. I asked whether or not this was on the main road and she answered “yes”.

There was No Caller ID so I also asked for a contact number and was given 0467 xxx xxx by the caller. The caller’s voice sounded panicked, so I said I would be there in ten minutes. The call duration was 2 min 18 seconds.

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Emergency Medical Response originally started out as Bealiba Community First Response in 2010 but has grow considerably since then with two Volunteer Ambulances (ex-Rural Ambulance Victoria 2006 and a ex-Queensland Ambulance Service 2005 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter) along with a 2012 Toyota HiLux 4WD Response Vehicle on call to handle all those off road situations.

home-logoThe “Star of Life” is a logo patented by the American Medical Association in 1967. It represents the three rivers of life and the rod of Aesculapius (the snake emblem) that is widely used as the symbol of medical care worldwide and named after the Greek mythology figure Asclepius, who was said to have possessed healing power. The symbol was first used on early generation Medic-Alert emblems. It was given to the NREMT as the EMT logo.
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