IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

149 defibrillators coming to schools and sports halls

This story was first published in The Straits Times on March 26, 2013

SOME 149 defibrillators will be available at school playing fields and sports halls during weekends in case members of the public using the facilities suffer a heart attack.

The potentially life-saving move is aimed at those who take advantage of the Singapore Sports Council's (SSC) Dual Use Scheme, under which they can use these spaces for sports such as football, badminton and basketball for free or for a small fee.

The automated external defibrillators (AEDs), designed to be more user-friendly, will be available from next month at 89 fields and 60 indoor halls.

Another 50 dual-use school fields will be equipped with the AEDs in phases after April.

The SSC also installed AEDs at 17 other sports and recreation centres recently.

The AED is a small portable electrical device that analyses cardiac rhythms and treats patients by applying an electrical shock.

Users are guided through the emergency resuscitation process with audio and visual instructions which show them how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as well as how to operate the AED.

The model used by the SSC will have voice prompts that will alert the user if he is not pushing hard enough during CPR, while a metronome will help users apply compressions at the correct rate.

Ms Delphine Fong, the SSC's director of sports safety, said: "Time is of the essence when it comes to saving lives.

"The installation of the defibrillators will enable guests to have immediate access to a life-saving device."

She added: "This would significantly increase the chances of them saving the life of a family member, friend or fellow guest."

Heart attack victims must be tended to immediately.

For every minute that help is delayed, a victim's survival chances drop by 7 to 10 per cent, said National Resuscitation Council president V. Anantharaman.

The SSC will spread awareness on how to use defibrillators by distributing step-by-step instructions on what the machine does, how it is used and how to perform CPR.

National University Heart Centre Singapore director Tan Huay Cheem said: "There is no questioning the helpfulness of such life-saving equipment, especially in places where there is heavy human flow and intensive sports activities are going on."

A total of 7,813 heart attacks - 1,102 of which were fatal - were reported in 2011, up from 7,242 in 2008.

According to the Singapore Heart Foundation's AED registry, there are 621 registered AEDs installed at 255 locations islandwide.

Its spokesman said, however, that there are an estimated 3,000 AEDs installed in Singapore.

Bank executive Ashley Phua, 26, who plays badminton at the indoor sports hall at Bendemeer Secondary School every fortnight, applauded the idea.

He said: "Sometimes accidents happen. With the AEDs, at least some help can be delivered to the victim before professional help arrives."

melpang@sph.com.sg

This story was first published in The Straits Times on March 26, 2013

To subscribe to The Straits Times, please go to http://www.sphsubscription.com.sg/eshop/