North Star’s life-saving grant

Community stories: 20 August 2020

North Star Sporting Club plays a critical role providing recreation facilities in the local community, and it’s equally important that the right first aid equipment is on hand.

It’s why the club was nominated by a local farmer for an Australian Cotton Farmers Grow Communities (ACFGC) grant valued at $5000 and sponsored by Bayer Crop Science through the Bayer Fund. This has enabled them to purchase a defibrillator and three comprehensive first aid kits.

North Star Sporting Club President Jeffrey Nixon, who runs the property ‘Merwood’ in the district, says the club has a tennis court, runs horse events, and also hosts the North Star Trail Ride, which at one point was the biggest non-competitive dirt bike event in Australia.

“Obviously, safety’s an issue, and over the years we’ve had Westpac and RACQ helicopters in about 15 times, and that’s part of the back story of the grant application,” Jeffrey says.

“A local resident had a heart attack here in 2014 and three people did CPR until they were able to get a local St Johns Ambulance defibrillator in operation, and then the RACQ helicopter was diverted to North Star with an emergency doctor on and we were able to save his life.”

The situation sowed the seed for having a dedicated defibrillator and three substantial first aid kits at the club, with local cotton grower Naomi Mulligan successfully nominating the organisation for an Australian Cotton Farmers Grow Communities grant.

The need for the equipment was again sadly highlighted by the passing of a person at the club grounds just prior to the grant application being submitted.

“It’s very sad, and you think, if we’d have had the defibrillator here, we might’ve been able to make that a different story, but at the time we didn’t have it,” Jeffrey says.

“While COVID-19 has delayed the installation of the equipment and the associated training that needs to take place, the plans are set.

“We want the defibrillator to be accessible, so it will be on the outside of the club building in a safety box, which requires glass to be broken, and then it can be opened.”

With people coming from all over Australia, and even around the world, for events at the North Star Sporting Club, Jeffrey says they need to have the right safety equipment in place, and the ACFGC grant has played a critical role in achieving this.

“When something happens like when John had his heart attack here at the trail ride in 2014, all of a sudden you need this one piece of equipment, which is a life saver,” he explains.

“When we invite people to an event at North Star, we need to be able to give them confidence that we do our best to have first aid equipment onsite.

“We don’t want to have to be waiting for the ambulance to turn up. We want to be able to get in and get something done.”

Aside from the safety aspect, Jeffrey stresses the financial challenge is always present for small community clubs, and grants like the ACFGC program are key.

“We’ve got our power bill, our water bill, everything else to pay for, and that’s not given, we’ve got to earn enough money to do all those things, and when someone like Bayer and FRRR come along, and we can get some of those very important items onsite at the club, it makes a huge difference,” he says.

“It’s not like in the city where you’re only five minutes from the ambulance station. Out here, if you need a helicopter, it’s two hours away at the minimum.

“We’re very appreciative for the grant, that’s for sure, it makes our job a bit easier.”