BY JOSH MARTON
Strathalbyn Football Club official Nick Weckert has been a major driving force behind a volunteer grant which has become a crucial life-saving factor within the local community.
Currently the Junior Committee President with the Strathalbyn Roosters, Mr Weckert was awarded $US1000 by his employer DuPont, for his outstanding efforts in the community through its volunteer program.
The money helped to purchase an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
Employed as the regional manager in the crop protection sector of DuPont, Mr Weckert praised his company’s support toward obtaining the life-saving equipment for use in the Strathalbyn area.
“It’s satisfying to work for a company such as DuPont which supports local communities through its Volunteer Recognition program,” said Mr Weckert.
“It is tremendous that the money donated is being used towards the number one core value of the company which is safety and is something the whole community will benefit from.”
The AED will be available at all community events held at the club, including tennis, netball, softball,
cricket, football, and even bingo.
Director of Australian Defibrillators, Paul James, said the chances of surviving cardiac arrest – which can range from the healthy and young to the ill and aged – are dependent on immediate defibrillation.
“The chances of survival are decreased for every minute that someone’s heart has stopped, and when a heart is in ventricular fibrillation, the only definitive treatment is defibrillation,” said Mr James.
Mr James also hopes the public will realise that AEDs have been designed for use by ordinary bystanders and spectators.
“Automated External Defibrillators are designed to be used by people at the scene who have little or no experience and will only shock a person who will receive benefit from the therapy,” he said.
Martin Kimber, manager of patient services for the SA Ambulance Service, also notes the importance of an impulse-transmitting machine.
“The chances of survival after having a cardiac arrest increase dramatically with quick access to a defibrillator,” said Mr Kimber.
The case of Doug Abbott, a parent of three regular participants at the Strathalbyn Oval facility, is proof that AEDs are needed among all sporting organisations.
Mr Abbott was diagnosed with viral pneumonia and pleurisy in 2006 and is currently in line for open heart surgery to replace his aortic valve.
His blocked aorta intensified his chances of suffering from a cardiac arrest, and without a defibrillator, his safety would be at much greater risk.
Mr Abbott is elated to have a backup plan if a disaster occurs with any of his children or their team-mates.
“Honestly, for something that is really important, I have heard virtually nothing about it … I mean you just don’t know, age and fitness are no barrier,” he said.
“It’s like an insurance policy and it’s a great thing that Nick (Weckert) has decided to put the money towards.
“Our family has a history of heart issues, so for us it is a good thing to have around our sporting club…and it would be pretty special if it saved the life of someone’s son or daughter.”
Mr Abbott’s children are also at risk of heart failure – in particular his eldest son Mark, who was born with a sepital defect (a hole in his heart).
Former SA cricketer Graham Manou shares Mark Abbott’s disorder, and believes the addition of the defibrillator to the Strathalbyn clubrooms is a great initiative.
Founder of the Graham Manou Foundation, which supports children suffering from serious heart conditions, Mr Manour believes the defibrillator will raise awareness of heart disease in young people.
“Having the defibrillator will start to make people aware of the seriousness of childhood heart disease and the overall impact it has,” he said.
“The Strathalbyn Football Club are extremely fortunate to have someone kind hearted enough to help donate such equipment.
“For a parent who has a child who suffers from a heart defect it will offer some peace of mind that the club is doing everything within its power to help all members of its community.”
Local St John’s Ambulance officer Peter Crouch believes the equipment will assist during “critical moments”.
“All sporting facilities should have a one, you just never know,” he said.
Mr Crouch emphasised the diversity of crowd members attending Strathalbyn sporting and community events, and believes every club should have a defibrillator.
“You’ve got a huge variation in age groups and just because someone is running around playing football doesn’t mean they can’t have a heart attack,” he said.
Photo courtesy of the Mt Barker Courier.