Luckily one TAWKing Family are on a mission to make sure everyone has the opportunity to learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator.
I’m Claire Carn, a Mum travelling around Australia with my family, just like you!
I’m also an experienced Intensive Care nurse and Advanced Life Support Instructor with 20 years of teaching experience (teaching both Doctors and nurses Advanced Resuscitation skills) and I am PASSIONATE about helping all Aussies receive training for CPR and using a defibrillator.
Did you know that 30,000 Aussies will die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest in a year? That’s WAYYYYYYYYYYY too many… And our survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest is only 12-25%, and this is IF bystander CPR has happened!
Why so bad?
- Not enough people do perform bystander CPR
- There are not enough defibs in workplaces or public places
- CPR is often done poorly.
How can we improve these dreadful stats?
- Increase bystander CPR by increasing awareness and increasing community Quality CPR training.
- CPR performed within 2 minutes can double or triple survival rates!
- Increase the number of public access defibrillators so that every Australian can access one within 3 minutes.
Having a defibrillator at hand and put on a person within 3 minutes of cardiac arrest can increase their survival rate to above 75% - How crazy is that? What a staggering jump!! (Every minute of delay can reduce survival rates by 10% so you can see why survival rates are so low if ambulances take 10-12 minutes to arrive – and so much longer in rural and remote areas – try hours!)
Sudden cardiac arrests don’t just happen to old, fat people (a common misconception ) but they happen to all ages, all shapes and sizes. They happen to children, to healthy people at the gym, to young men onsports fieldss, they happen to Mums, Dads and to travellers… that means it could happen to any of you too... Pretty confronting heh?
This makes me really sad. I’ve been at the bedside and cared for many people post cardiac arrest in a hospital and witnessed the devastation of families if they lose a family member. It even happened to my daughters 7 year old friend a few years ago; this was just beyond horrible and I cannot begin to explain the grief that her family, her friends and our whole community suffered.
When planning for our trip I had some major spinal surgery just a few months before we left on our big lap. It was during my recovery period from this that I had a lightbulb moment! Why don’t I teach CPR and Defib awareness as we travel around? Surely there are families that have never received training in this, or maybe communities where training has not been offered?
Hence, A Life Saving Lap was created….
The travelling family community is growing by the day, and I have found it to be very supportive – sharing tips, supporting each other through crisis (Thank heavens for other travelling mums and wine!!) and sharing adventures together.
Most of us are travelling to improve the lives of our families - to build strong connections to our children and make amazing memories for them. By making the decision to travel we are doing everything in our power to provide rich experiences for our family, but we also want to keep ourselves safe. This is MY bit to help other families and communities as we travel. I figured that even if I taught a handful of people on this trip, and just ONE person did bystander CPR, or applied a defib and saved a life then that would make it worth doing.
I have had the pleasure of sharing my skills and knowledge with travelling families, staff in the remotest pub in the world (William Creek Hotel, SA!) remote communities and campsites (Cactus Beach, SA) and Caravan park staff.
I don’t do it every day, or every week, or even every month, because this trip is about our family and creating memories for them, but I do take up any opportunity where anyone shows interest.
I travel with a small manikin than enables people to practice the skills I teach and see real feedback to see if they are doing compressions hard enough, or fast enough (It is REALLY REALLY hard to do good QUALITY CPR!!).
I also have a training defibrillator with me, so people can practice putting on the pads in the right places and learn about the safety aspects of defibs. I talk about Australia’s statistics and what we can ALL do to improve them.
My goal is to encourage people to ‘have a go’ should they ever be present at a sudden cardiac arrest, after all, ANY RESUSCITATION IS BETTER THAN NO RESUSCITATION! There is no pass or fail when I teach, only constructive feedback to help you improve your knowledge and skills.
I encourage you ALL to please either refresh any existing skills through a First Aid / CPR course before you leave on your travels, to definitely book one in if you haven’t ever had training on CPR, or look me up as you travel, I may be just around the corner!
Sudden cardiac arrest could occur through an unknown underlying heart condition, through poisoning (think snakes / venomous sea creatures!), through severe dehydration – these are just some of the possible causes you could encounter on your travels.
St John and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) are doing a fantastic job of getting more defibrillators in rural and remote places, but we always need more. They also offer fantastic free education sessions to many remote communities. Did you know that every outback station now has a defibrillator in their medical kits?
When you are next out and about, have a look and see if you can find them. They’re often in tourist centres, popular tourist spots (like Uluru, Kings Canyon Rim, many National Parks) but unfortunately, they’re not in all caravan parks. I make a point of asking every single one as we check in – Do you have a defibrillator? If so, do ALL staff know how to use one? If not, where is your nearest one? How long does it take an ambulance or paramedics to arrive?
Next time you check into one, have a look around. Is there one visible, and easy to access? If you can’t see one, ask the about it! (And make sure you ask them why they’re not a TAWK park if they’re not one already!!)
- Haha, thanks for the plug Claire!! - Mandy TAWK Admin.
I am also an ambassador for a Non-Profit Organisation called Australian Hearts. They are trying to push for legislation change so that all workplaces require a defibrillator, just like all workplaces require smoke alarms, and fire extinguishers. We see it as essential life saving equipment.
I would appreciate any support in this cause, and you can help by signing their petition here - also check out their Facebook Page for inspiring stories.
If you see our van whilst on your travels, pop over to say Hi! If you would like a session for you or your family, ask me about it! It’s low cost, much cheaper than a First Aid course and I can involve all the family from young to old. One day, it may enable you to save a life, and I can tell you that there is no greater feeling in the world than that. Plus if you are a TAWK Member, you will get a 10% discount.
What YOU can do..
- Ensure you are up to date with CPR and First Aid Training. Involve your kids if possible.
- Download the St John First Aid App onto your smartphone (it gives you step by step guide to CPR right at the very top of the App and gives you awesome information about many other medical emergencies/First Aid)
- Know your DRSABCD!
- Sign the Petition at www.australianhearts.com/signthepetition
- Ask every caravan park / campsite if they have a defibrillator and if not, why not?
- Donate to St John or RFDS if there is an opportunity – you’ll often find donation boxes in remote hotels or roadhouses.
- Spread the word about what we can ALL do to improve Australia’s Cardiac Arrest survival rate.
- Follow me on Facebook to see where we currently are www.facebook.com/lifesavinglap or Instagram www.instagram.com/alifesavinglap
We’re currently in WA (July 2019) travelling up towards Exmouth and further North, so still have much of WA, the NT and Qld to cover before we head off on another adventure to Europe for 3 months (We don’t do things by halves in this family!!) Who knows what the future holds after that!
Thanks for reading and Happy travels!
RN, BSc, Ma Nursing Critical Care. ACCCN Advanced Life Support Instructor.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile : 0401 588204.