THE Riverina sporting community has welcomed a state government initiative making defibrillators more accessible to the community.
NSW sports clubs and councils recently had the opportunity to apply for a share of $1 million to purchase Automated External Defibrillators, which one local sports trainer vouched for after witnessing the life saving equipment put to use.
Marrar Bombers sports trainer Michael Walker said an incident in 2018 at the Farrer League grand final could have been much worse if a defibrillator was not on site.
After a 72-year-old man in the crowd went into cardiac arrest, Mr Walker ran the length of Robertson Oval to retrieve the field's public defibrillator.
"It would be fantastic to have one at every game, but more importantly, at every large gathering because as we saw in that case, it's not just needed for the players," he said.
"Our club out at Marrar has actually invested in one already and a lot of other Farrer League clubs are doing the same now."
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Mr Walker said general CPR training would also benefit sporting communities, and for those who still may not be able to afford the defibrillators under the grant system or who missed out, there were other options available.
"Often with sporting clubs, you only really need it half the year when you're in action, and so there are places where you can rent them instead of buying outright," he said.
Wollundry Rotary's Goeff Breaust was also an advocate for defibrillators in public places, with the club having previously ran a program of their own.
"We formed a partnership with Defib For Life after one of our member's fathers had a heart attack and the machine saved his life," he said.
"Basically, we would seek out community organisations to apply for one and we would go 50-50 in the price through our community fund and the help of Beyond Bank donating."
Helping fund more than 30 defibrillators over three years up until 2020, Mr Breaust said they still try to help where they can, but to see the government's interest was also positive.
"They are a life saver, there is no question about it," he said.
"If you are able to start CPR and have an AED on hand until the paramedics arrive, that makes all the difference in the world."
Independent Member for Wagga Joe McGirr also supported the life-saving benefits in having wider availability of defibrillator machines in the community.
"There's no doubt that, used correctly, a defibrillator can save lives," he said.
Dr McGirr was recently approached by members of a local sporting organisation who had not applied for the $1 million grant, which has now closed.
"I contacted the Minister's office and was told they were able to take some late applications," he said.
"We shared this information with local clubs and, as a result, a number have been able to apply for the program, which splits the cost of a defibrillator package between a sporting club and the government."
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