Did you know sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in New Zealand adults? It kills approximately 1,500 New Zealanders a year and can happen to anyone at any time.
For the best chance of survival from a sudden cardiac arrest, you need to start CPR and use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) that shocks the heart and restarts it in a new rhythm. However, New Zealand has only approximately 6,000 AEDs and to be at best practice, which means having one located a four-minute round trip away from those who need one, we need 10,000. The chance of survival reduces 10 to 15 percent every minute that defibrillation is delayed.
In an effort to improve survival rates in New Zealand, Heart Saver, a New Zealand company that provides New Zealander’s with affordable, quality health and safety solutions, created the Become a Heart Saver campaign.
Heart Saver started by giving away an AED every month to a deserving community organisation, charity, school or club. GrownUps and its parent company, Cigna, heard about the campaign, loved the idea and wanted to be a part of it. Now, with their help, the Become a Heart Saver campaign gives away two AEDs a month.
“As a business, if you have some money, you can always do sponsorships and the like. Some initiatives are possibly for more commercial reasons than genuine community reasons, to be honest,” says Richard Poole, general manager of the online publication for the 50+ market, GrownUps. “I feel that Become a Heart Saver is absolutely aligned to our business and it makes us feel really good and you can’t really argue the fact that it ultimately could save people’s lives.”
Poole explains that the content on GrownUps’ website is all about living and it hopes to make every day a better day for the members of its community, so being involved in a promotion that’s saving New Zealanders’ lives is a perfect fit.
Community groups submit entries through www.heartsaver.co.nz/become-a-heart-saver as to why they are a good place to have an AED and monthly winners are chosen by GrownUps, Cigna and Heart Saver. Poole says it’s always hard to choose the most deserving, but it’s a challenge that comes with its own rewards as he sees the appreciation of the receivers. When speaking about it, he gives the example of Paparimu School in Hunua. Earlier this year, the community was cut off after flooding hit and it realised that should anyone require an AED, there was not one available.
Since January, AEDs have been donated to Ahipara School, Heart Kids Canterbury, Cardiac Companions, The Ngati Rangi Community Health Centre, Himatangi Beach Community Patrol, Wellington Boys and Girls Institute, The Champion Centre, Evolve Wellington Youth Service, West Auckland Plunket, Paparimu School, Hanmer Springs Forest Camp, Te Harato Marae and Raglan Community Vehicle Trust.
Given GrownUps is a free website, its loyal community is what drives advertising on the site and therefore provides the funds required to support an initiative like Become a Heart Saver. Poole hopes that the GrownUps community has recognised that they are a vital part of enabling that.
“We feel like the Heart Saver relationship gives our community something to get behind and a sense of pride that with their help, we are doing a community good”.
For Poole, the involvement with Become a Heart Saver has a personal meaning as well. Last year he witnessed a man’s life being saved, as he stood powerless nearby. The experience impacted him deeply and made him aware of his lack of knowledge and that he needed to be more prepared. He and his wife immediately did a first aid course and now both keep AEDs in each of their cars. He also organised a first aid course for all his GrownUps staff.
Poole admits that until then he didn’t know sudden cardiac arrest was different to a heart attack. Education around this is just as important to the Become a Heart Saver campaign as distributing AEDs, he points out.
Heart Saver managing director Mike Mander says people often confuse sudden cardiac arrest with a heart attack and therefore they don’t know how to best respond. However, comparing the body to a house, he says a heart attack is a plumbing issue with a blockage, while sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical fault.
Because of those differences, a heart attack can be treated with CPR but sudden cardiac arrest requires an AED to shock the heart back into a rhythm compatible with life.
To help make that information common knowledge, GrownUps has a dedicated ‘Heart Heath and Saving Lives’ section on its website with stories about maintaining heart health and what do should someone find themselves suffering a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest.
To add to the appeal, scattered throughout the pieces is a series of videos featuring Paul Ego demonstrating CPR and the use of AEDs.
While information of this nature is important for all New Zealanders, Mander says the GrownUps audience (50-plus) is particularly receptive to such messages because they are aware of their mortality.
In the fact, a significant segment of people who purchase AEDs from Heart Saver are of that demographic.
He gives the example of campervan owners, who have the funds to go travelling. Venturing away from main centres in their campervan means they may not have easy access to help should they or someone with them find themselves in trouble, so having an AED on board can provide peace of mind.
It’s not surprising, then, that every month when the Become a Heart Saver entrants are asked where they heard about the competition, GrownUps comes up as being a key driver.
Not only are members of the GrownUps community entering an organisation to win an AED, they’ve opened up a dialogue about heart health and shared their own experiences with sudden cardiac arrest and heart attacks on the GrownUps Facebook page.
One such story was from a woman who had experienced heart problems herself and now lives with a defibrillator.
“I suffered a cardiac arrest in October 2013 when I was 72 years old. If it weren’t for the 111 operator talking my grandson’s partner through CPR, bless her, I would not be here today. She did an awesome job for 15 minutes while her daughter, my three-year-old great-granddaughter, screamed the whole time. I had another one four days later in the hospital – not that I remember any of this as I lost a couple of day before the arrest and several after. I now live with a defibrillator in my chest and take meds. I have had no further problems and I count my blessings every day.”
It’s this engagement with the Become a Heart Saver campaign and resulting discussion about it that’s given Heart Saver confidence that its message is being spread widely across New Zealand.
“We really appreciate being a partner with GrownUps because of the audience they give us access to,” says Mander. “The campaign really resonates with the readers, which in turn is pushing out the key message and driving a very successful campaign with lots of monthly entries.”
- This story is brought to you as part of a content partnership between StopPress and GrownUps.