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Michael Hughes Foundation executive director Julie Hughes with patron and supporter, Lawrie McKinna, also chief executive of the Newcastle Jets. Michael Hughes Foundation executive director Julie Hughes with patron and supporter, Lawrie McKinna, also chief executive of the Newcastle Jets.
17 March 2018 Posted by 

Turning bystanders into life-saving first responders

IF you found yourself on the front line of a medical emergency, would you know what to do?
Would you feel confident to spring into action and provide lifesaving resuscitation or come to a nervous standstill?
The team behind the Michael Hughes Foundation is aiming to turn bystanders into first responders in a bid to save lives – and they’re doing it one defibrillator at a time.
Since its inception two years ago following the untimely death of Dundas father Michael Hughes of sudden cardiac arrest, the Foundation has placed more than 200 defibrillators throughout NSW and trained more than 1300 people to use them and how to administer basic first aid.
The latter is vital to survival, said Julie Hughes, foundation executive director and wife of Mr Hughes.
“CPR is critical,” she said. “With no intervention, within four minutes a person in cardiac arrest will suffer brain damage and after eight minutes, there is little chance of survival.”
The statistics are sobering, particularly when considering the average response time of a NSW Ambulance is about 10 minutes, which means action by those on the ground in the immediate minutes following cardiac arrest is crucial.
“CPR will buy you time and attempt to keep the person alive. A defibrillator is the critical component to kick start the heart but it’s not designed to replace CPR,” Mrs Hughes said.
The foundation has teamed with the state and federal governments, community leaders and medical experts to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest.
More than $420,000 has been raised to place 213 defibrillators throughout the state, including 43 across Parramatta where the Hughes family called home.
Parramatta Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson recently described the city as a “trailblazer” in the roll-out of such lifesaving equipment in the community.
Mr Hughes was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy only a few weeks before he died at just 38 years of age. That Monday morning started like most others, until he suddenly collapsed while getting ready for work.
“We were blind sighted when Michael passed away,” Mrs Hughes said.
“It has been devastating to our family and friends and the foundation has been the culmination of much grieving and soul searching.
“We have realised we are one of thousands of stories of loss. I couldn’t do this work on my own and certainly not without the skills of the people we are very blessed to have on the board who have been collaborating to do something really good.”
That good includes hosting Defibrillator Familiarisation and First Responder Information Sessions which have been educating people on sudden cardiac arrest, CPR and defibrillation.
But there’s still more to be done, Mrs Hughes said.
“When you’re passionate about a cause, you think you can always do more. It’s fantastic we have placed nearly 50 defibrillators in the local community but now we want to turn our attention to making sure people know where the defibrillators are and to develop a community that is ‘heart safe’ which means ensuring they recognise cardiac arrest, they
call for help and start basic first aid,” she said.
“We can’t save everybody but we can help give people the confidence to intervene in an emergency and improve a person’s chances of survival.”
A civic reception soon to be held in recognition of the foundation’s extraordinary achievements would be an opportunity to thank the many supporters who helped raise more than $90,000 at the Lord Mayor’s 2016 gala dinner, Mrs Hughes said.
Of the dinner, which was attended by more than 400 people and was the most successful fundraising event in the council’s history, Deputy Lord Mayor Michelle Garrard said: “I put the success of the night down to the integrity of what the foundation stands for and that the cause was unique and personal and people could relate.
“While the foundation has been the recipient of all the money raised, they have donated that back to the LGA in the form of defibrillators which are now vital council assets. That is something to be really commended.”
The Michael Hughes Foundation runs free, 1.5 hour defibrillator and first responder information sessions across the Parramatta local government area each month. To find one near you and to sign up, visit www.mhf.life/parramatta-scfg-sign-up.html
Learn more about the Michael Hughes Foundation at www.mhf.life
Heart attack or cardiac arrest?
A heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest are not the same thing. A heart attack is a circulation problem, indicating blood flow to the heart is blocked. SCA is an electrical problem, causing the heart muscles to quiver or fibrillate rather than pump blood. About 30,000 Australians suffer a cardiac arrest each year and when it occurs out of hospital, less than 9 per cent of sufferers survive.


Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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