‘Safety risk’ over life-saver defibrillator cabinets

Oxford Mail: Mike Graham and Liz Nason with one of Chipping Norton's three defibrillator cabinets. Picture: OX65097 Aimee Kirkham Buy this photo » Mike Graham and Liz Nason with one of Chipping Norton's three defibrillator cabinets. Picture: OX65097 Aimee Kirkham

FEARS have been raised over lifesaving equipment being put at risk because of “inadequate cabinets”.

Member of the Chipping Norton Lions club Liz Nason initially expressed concern after seeing a picture of a donated defibrillator cabinet in the Oxford Mail.

She said: “I saw it was one of the 24 defibrillators donated anonymously, and I was immediately worried.”

The 71-year-old added: “The cabinets need to be heated so that the electrics in the defibrillator don’t get too cold in the winter.”

Fellow Lions member and former paramedic Mike Graham said: “This means if water gets into it, it will accumulate at the bottom of the cabinet and could cause it to short circuit, killing the heater.”

As revealed in the Oxford Mail last month an anonymous donation from someone whose life was saved by a defibrillator will see 24 of the £1,800 devices, which shock the heart back to life, provided across West Oxfordshire.

Council leaders agreed cash for 30 more for the rest of the district.

Dick Tracey, South Central Ambulance Service responder department manager, who runs the installation of the cabinets for the 24 defibrillators, said: “The cabinets we have bought on behalf of the anonymous donor are from a company called Lifebox, which has done its own checks.

“I am assured that the cabinets are perfectly satisfactory.”

But Ms Nason is so concerned that the council will use cheaper cabinets, rather than the £750 ones supplied by the Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT), a charity that supplies defibrillator equipment to communities across the country, she has contacted its national secretary Martin Fagan.

He said: “If you’re putting it externally where anyone can access it, then you need to assume that anyone can access it.”

The cabinets are also IP65 rated meaning that they are completely dust, dirt and rainproof, and have been independently assessed.

Mr Fagan, 55, said: “We work closely with the ambulance service, and have set down basic standards we adhere to.

“But we feel they do need to be brought to the attention of potential buyers as part of their overall consideration.”

He admitted that the cabinets were expensive when compared to others, which can cost as little as £250, but said: “I understand the attitude of wanting to make your money go as far as possible, but the council has the responsibility of planning to do more.

“We have written to West Oxfordshire District Council asking members to meet with us and hear what we have to say, but have not heard any response.”

Sara Long from the council said that it had not yet decided what cabinets to buy.

She did not comment on whether the council would meet with the Community Heartbeat Trust.

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