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Anyone that’s ever waited on the arrival of an ambulance knows how long it seems between calling for help and the time paramedics walk through the door. We recently experienced this and it was a good reminder of how lucky we are to live in a suburb surrounded by hospitals and ambulance bases. It still took 13 minutes for the ambulance to arrive so I can only imagine the anxiety felt by people experiencing an emergency in a more remote area.

Wisemans Ferry - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
BJ picnicking at Wisemans Ferry

We visit the lovely community of Wisemans Ferry a couple of times each year because it’s a wonderful escape from busy city life. The historic river township is located on the Hawkesbury River about an hour and a half’s drive from Sydney’s CBD. Surrounded by beautiful national parks it’s a gorgeous area to explore but it’s far away from medical help, something I hadn’t thought much about until our most recent visit. In fact, I’ve since learnt it is 42kms to the nearest ambulance station so that equals quite a wait for assistance.

Wisemans Ferry defibrillator project - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Before the current lockdown we visited Wisemans Ferry to do some mandarin picking and I noticed something I’d never spotted before, random defibrillators on the roadside at various intervals. After seeing several, I got Hubby to pull over so I could read the signage about the Community Defib Project, which led to me researching a bit more on it. I was so impressed I wanted to share the information for two reasons. Firstly, I’m constantly impressed by the fact that one person’s actions and passion can change the lives of many. I love being reminded of this because it feels like almost anything is possible, it just takes one person to set an idea in motion. Of course it then takes many others to join in and support the instigator but it’s wonderful to see the change that can occur. Secondly, I think it’s good to be aware of life saving equipment and where to find it. We all hope not to need it but it’s good to store it away in the memory bank, just in case.

Wisemans Ferry autumn - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Wisemans Ferry in autumn colours

I’ll share a brief version of the story. A young paramedicine student by the name of Sophie learnt while studying at Western Sydney University that “with every minute that goes by during a sudden cardiac arrest without a defibrillator, the victim’s chance of survival is reduced by 7-10%” Living in Wisemans Ferry, Sophie was conscious that her community in Wisemans Ferry was at risk of poor outcomes for sudden cardiac arrest and other medical emergencies. Following a tragic medical event in 2018 Sophie asked Dr Paul Simpson (Director of Academic Program Paramedicine Western Sydney University) for help with the hope of purchasing one community defibrillator for Wisemans Ferry. That initial idea grew, with the help of a government grant and community support, to 20 defibrillators over a 12 month period. The multiple defibrillators have been installed with a goal to ensure no community member is further than 10 minutes away from help. Defibrillators are also located on the vehicle ferries which cross the Hawkesbury River.

Other communities have also adopted the Community Defib Project including, Catherine Hill Bay, St Albans and Maroota, with more planned in the future.

Seeing the Community Defib Project had me hunting to see if there is any central information site for the location of defibrillators but in a quick search I could only find this link.

If you have more information you think would be helpful to share, please let me know in comments below. I think it’s amazing that people like Sophie and Paul have made such a difference with the Community Defib Project.



  1. Defib is poplulair here, all public buildings have them.
    Companies need to have specialy trained people, this is part of the laboursafety lawgiving here.

    But, more important, most (if not all) health insurance pay for it.
    You can have a free first aid training and also free defib training!
    They don,t pay for the defib (AED) it self.
    Maybe your insurance also pays for it.

    There is also a project that warms people with the training and an app on their phone that are near the activated AED to go and help.
    I don,t know if it works.


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