Maffra Ambulance Auxiliary is calling on local community groups to help residents have better access to lifesaving devices.

For the rest of the year, community groups and businesses that have an automated external defibrillator (AED) can apply for a weatherproof alarmed storage cabinet.

The box will be mounted to the exterior wall of a building, allowing the AED to be used 24-hours a day.

A Maffra Ambulance Victoria (AV) paramedic, Jo O’Doherty, said more publicly accessible devices would make a real difference to the community.

“Cardiac arrest happens when a person’s heart suddenly stops beating and it can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere,” Ms O’Doherty said.

“Minutes matter and the sooner a person receives cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation from an AED, the better their chances of survival.”

About 20 Victorians have a cardiac arrest every day and only one in 10 survive.

When a cardiac arrest patient receives CPR from a bystander and a shock from an AED before paramedics arrive, their chance of survival increases by more than 70 per cent.

Ms O’Doherty said anyone can use an AED, regardless of whether they had received training to do so.

“If someone is in cardiac arrest and there is an AED nearby, simply open it and follow the instructions. They are safe, easy to use and will not deliver a shock unless it is necessary,” she said.

The Maffra Ambulance Auxiliary will also consider applications to help with the cost of replacement electrode pads and batteries.

Maffra currently has five registered 24-hour accessible AEDs, which can be located via:

registermyaed.ambulance.vic.gov.au/find-an-aed

Ms O’Doherty said AEDs assisted by the program would be registered via AV’s website, allowing Triple Zero (000) call-takers to direct people to them in a medical emergency.

“If a registered AED is used to help save a life, Ambulance Victoria will replace the electrode pads free of charge,” she said.

“We encourage everyone to register their AED with AV.”

AV Auxiliaries function as a result of volunteers, who have maintained their commitment and support since the establishment of the organisation’s first auxiliary in 1918.

They play an integral role in providing their community with equipment and education above the usual budget processes, in addition to raising community awareness of AV and its operations.

Applications should be made in writing to Jo O’Doherty at josephine.odoherty@ambulance.vic.gov.au before December 31 2023.