Our Story

Back in heart beat
Back in heart beat



Urban Lifesavers was established in memory of Paul John Holland who did not survive a sudden cardiac arrest on Sunday 17 February 2008. Paul was 56 years old, married to Anne and the father of five children, Bridgette, Paul, Gerard, Xavier & Damien.

Six weeks prior to Paul’s death, on 5 January, 2008, close friend Karen Rizzoli did not survive a sudden cardiac arrest and 9 August 2016, another close friend, Mark Sherlock, also succumbed to cardiac arrest. Their legacy & memory will live on through Urban Lifesavers’ public access defibrillation campaign. Paul had suffered a heart attack but Karen & Mark’s deaths were caused by other cardiac conditions. It is very important to understand that sudden cardiac arrest has many causes and is a separate event to a heart attack.

Minutes matter in a sudden cardiac arrest and early cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with early defibrillation are the ‘Chain of survival’ keys to getting someone ‘back in a heart beat’.

The term ‘Urban Lifesavers’ refers to ordinary people in the community (urban) having the knowledge and ability to provide a lifesaving skill during a medical emergency involving someone in sudden cardiac arrest. Bystanders – ordinary people – regardless of whether they have prior first aid training, can learn why, when and how to apply an AED (automated external defibrillator).

Urban Lifesavers aims to encourage everyone to join the public access defibrillation campaign and become better informed, more confident and willing to take action to save another person’s life.

Our mission

Urban Lifesavers is a not-for-profit organisation & registered charity with a purpose to promote a national public access defibrillation & education program.

The likelihood of survival from sudden cardiac arrest is dependent upon bystanders acting quickly by applying an automated external defibrillator (AED) to get the victim back in a normal heart beat.

Urban Lifesavers’ objectives are
  • Raise public awareness about the incidence and significance of sudden cardiac arrest and the time critical urgency of bystanders improving survival by providing early CPR & early defibrillation.
  • Deliver education programs to empower ordinary people, with or without first aid training, to be urban lifesavers by applying an automated external defibrillator (AED) without fear or hesitation to give a victim of cardiac arrest a second chance of life.
  • Raise funds for AED education programs and widespread AED distribution in the community and workplace
  • Lobby Governments for legislative change to make AEDs mandatory inclusions in first aid kits, the same way fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are compulsory safety equipment.
Our Values
  • Passion: in our endeavours to save lives
  • Vision: inspirational thought leaders
  • Credibility: expertise in delivering our message
  • Integrity: in everything we do
  • Accountability: responsible and transparent management
Anne Holland

When Anne Holland’s husband Paul died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2008, Anne and their five children were devastated – especially since his death could have been prevented with the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

It was then that Anne realized how frighteningly scarce defibrillators are in the community, despite 33,000 Australians dying of cardiac arrest each year. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that’s more than the number of deaths caused by road accidents, fires, breast cancer, bowel cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer combined.

"They are out there, but there are too few of them," Anne says of external defibrillators. "The other major problems are that people don’t know what they are, where to find them, that it’s time-critical that they use them, or what to do with them."Turning her pain into action, Anne, an experienced nurse, became an author, speaker and first-aid educator. She published her book ‘Back in a Heart Beat’ and founded non-profit Urban Lifesavers in 2015." I’m doing this primarily in memory of my husband, but also as a critical-care nurse,"concerned about low survival rates," she says.

Urban Lifesavers has two main goals: firstly, Anne wants to educate the community about defibrillators. She wants us to know, for example, that a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival go from less than five per cent to about 80 per cent if a defibrillator is used within the first five minutes, and that they can’t be used incorrectly because the machine will only administer a shock if a fatal heart rhythm is detected. Secondly, she wants to see defibrillators included in first-aid kits in businesses and public places. It’s now compulsory to conduct defibrillator training as part of first-aid courses but this is pointless if the public doesn’t have access to the machines. "We want them to be as common as fire extinguishers," says Anne. Anne has poured $40,000 of her own money into the campaign, dramatically impacting her own financial situation and quality of life."Building this campaign has put me into a negative cash flow, but I am passionate about it and determined to make a difference," she says. "There’s the potential to save 10,000-20,000 lives a year in this country."

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Source: theweeklyreview.com.au/localheroes