When someone suddenly collapses from Sudden Cardiac Arrest in the street or at a public event, time and knowledge are crucial factors around whether they survive. All too often, they die before an ambulance can reach them. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) kills more people a year than breast cancer, lung cancer and AIDS combined, but a Midlands charity, Arrhythmia Alliance, is aiming to cut the risk of death from SCA by introducing life-saving emergency equipment in public places across the country – with the Warwickshire town of Shipston-on-Stour being one of the first.
SCA is the abrupt loss of the heart rhythm caused by an electrical problem with the heart. The only treatment for a patient in cardiac arrest is the use of CPR with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) which delivers an electric shock to restore the heart to a normal rhythm. In the event of a SCA, the first seven to eight minutes are critical, with early defibrillation increasing a person’s chances of survival from 5% to 50%. It is estimated that 12% of these incidents happen in public places. The idea of community AEDs is to enhance emergency services and first responder schemes.
Working with the Ambulance Service, Arrhythmia Alliance is helping to place AEDs across the country, in external weatherproof cabinets, keypad locked for security and easily identifiable by their prominent (emergency green) colour. If a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is suspected, a 999 caller is directed to their nearest cabinet and given the access code to retrieve the AED. The operator is then able to talk the caller through using the device while an ambulance is on the way.
In the Midlands, four cabinets have been located in Shipston-on-Stour and a second in Stratford-upon-Avon. All have been funded by the local community and local businesses. A further cabinet has also been located in the village of Newbold-on-Stour in loving memory of Mr Charles Lobban, who passed away in 2008 from sudden cardiac death.
Recently installed defibrillator cabinet outside the Village Shop (Newbold-on-Stour)
Arrhythmia Alliance and the West Midlands Ambulance Service are offering awareness and demonstration sessions to anyone who is interested in learning how to use the devices. The sessions are free and open to all with the first session on Tuesday 23rd February between 6.30pm and 8.30pm at Shipston Sports Club and a second at the Newbold Village Hall on Thursday 25th February between 6:30pm and 8:30pm.
The Shipston launch will be the first GP practice in the UK to locate an AED outside of premises for public use.
Arrhythmia Alliance Trustee, Trudie Lobban, said, “This is a fantastic initiative that will save lives. AEDs can literally mean the difference between life and death when someone has suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. I believe these should be located in all towns, especially at public and sporting venues and remote areas where it may take paramedics longer to get there.”
“This is such an important project for us and one that will make a huge impact. We are working with ambulance and paramedic services across the country to implement as many AEDs as possible. If your loved one experienced a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, you would want to have an AED as close by as possible to improve their chance of survival”.
The charity can facilitate the placement of AEDs across the country but the devices need to be paid for by local groups or organisations. Arrhythmia Alliance will offer support and resources that can help get a project off the ground in local areas.
Recently installed defibrillator cabinet outside the Shipston Sports Club (Shipston-on-Stour)
For more information, please contact Ben Fry at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01789 451830.
This article has been supplied by the Arrhythmia Alliance Charity.