Free barista-made coffees with marshmallows were the treat that drew nearby office workers out of their buildings and into the carpark of the Red Cross shop in Christchurch’s CBD.

While people enjoyed their cuppa, they were invited to watch a demonstration of the 24/7 publicly accessible Community AED installed outside the shop.

“Many didn’t know the AED was there for everybody to use,” says James Kirner, Community Resilience Project Team Leader, who led the demonstrations.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in New Zealand and the use of an AED as soon as possible can make all the difference.

“This device, like any Community AED installed by Red Cross, can be used any time and while you don’t need any training to use the device, the demonstration helps to give people the confidence to use it when necessary,” James says. “The device is pretty clever and measures what is happening with the patient’s heart. Apart from putting the pads on, there is very little that helpers will have to do. The machine takes care of it all.”

That you cannot inadvertently shock someone who doesn’t need to be shocked was an eye-opener for most who attended the demonstration.

Simon Smalley and Kathryn O’Connor came out from the IT company next door to the Red Cross shop.

“That was really good,” says Kathryn after the short demonstration. “I feel better, knowing what to expect.”

“You can’t go wrong with it, it's very reassuring to know,” Simon adds.

45 people from seven different organisations attended the 10 minute demonstration that fitted perfectly into a morning coffee break. The demonstrations were part of the Red Cross preparedness campaign ‘Good and Ready’.

“We all hope this AED is never needed, but if it is many people who work and live around this Red Cross shop now know what to do and expect,” James says.

Not a bad result for a mid-morning coffee break.

Find out more about AEDs in your local community.