“The ambulance staff and doctors made it very clear that in all probability I would not be alive today if the AED had not been on site,” says Jeff.

More and more AEDs are installed in workplaces, shopping malls and other city locations, saving lives like Jeff’s. However, after opening hours and outside big cities, it is a different story.

“Survival rates for cardiac arrest tend to be much lower in rural communities due to ambulance travel time,” says Marcus Bird, Red Cross Product Development Manager. “And many AEDs cannot be accessed at night.”

To improve this situation, Red Cross developed community AEDs which are accessible 24/7 and helped communities fundraise for them. North Canterbury has been especially active, with sixteen Community AEDs installed in 2016.

The North Canterbury AEDs are located in sports clubs, schools, community centres, libraries and other community facilities. Two are located in a shopping centre and a preschool in subdivisions.

Marcus says all devices were installed after community fundraising efforts.

“We worked with the Bishopdale Branch of New Zealand Red Cross who joined forces with St Bede’s College and Redwood Seniors who fundraised for the installation of the first community AED in the Canterbury region,” says Mr Bird. “A North Canterbury group heard about it and began their own fundraising for an AED station and it just snowballed from there.”

Communities wishing to fundraise for a community AED can contact New Zealand Red Cross by emailing save@redcross.org.nz or calling 03 339 7111.