‘Equipment only a lifesaver if you know how to use it’

5:00am Friday 31st January 2014

By Alex Wynick

DEFIBRILLATORS are vital for saving lives, but only if you know how to use them.

Every town and village in West Oxfordshire is in line to have a mobile defibrillator installed, with 54 devices being donated around the county.

But those responsible for the defibrillators already in place in Chipping Norton say just installing the equipment is not enough.

Liz Nason, a member of the Lions club and first-aider, said: “We run training courses on how to use the defibrillator, and not many people turn up. It’s important that people know how to use these, but people don’t, and they won’t unless they get the education.”

Ms Nason, along with the club’s Mike Graham, has been running free training sessions in their home town of Chipping Norton, but have seen fewer than expected trainees.

Mr Graham, 76, said: “After incidents people often say ‘Oh, I wish I’d known,’ but we do these courses so people do know, and yet no-one shows up.”

Defibrillators, which shock someone’s heart back into a normal rhythm, are necessary for rural areas which experience long waiting times for ambulances.

Mr Graham said: “We’re in the middle of nowhere.

“You have four minutes to get the blood flowing around the body again before there’s brain damage.

“People need to be able to do this before the ambulance gets there.”

Traditional CPR has a two per cent success rate of returning someone’s heart back to a normal beat, compared to a 40 per cent success rate of the £1,925 defibrillator.

Rob Caswell, gardener and ex-president of the Lions, said: “Every town has got to have a bank or a post office – they’ve got to have one of these.

“Defibrillators need to be like fire extinguishers; everyone knows what they are, what they do and how to use them.”

‘A booming Hollywood voice helps me out’

LOOKING at the blank-faced Annie doll on the floor and an intimidating luminous yellow cabinet, I felt unqualified for my defibrillator training session at the Crown and Cushion Hotel.

Inside the cabinet was an orange carrier. Inside the carrier was the defibrillator, along with the sticky-back pads that dangle from a cord. It is a surprisingly unimpressive white box, which is decorated with a drawing of a man spreadeagled, and a few buttons.

Ms Nason switched it on, and a man’s voice immediately boomed from the box: “Apply the pads to the bare chest as shown.”

What was once a plain white box had leapt into action; flashing lights show you exactly where to apply the pads.

I applied the pads – which were sticky. Mr Graham said: “There’s a razor blade in there so you can shave off chest hair.”

The defibrillator shouted: “Apply shock to the patient. Press the orange button. All clear.”

I pressed the button.

“Shock delivered. Analysing. Do not touch the patient,” added the defibrillator.

Even if you need to resort to CPR, the reassuring Hollywood voice helps you to.

Mr Graham finished by saying: “Lots of people worry about damaging someone. But, really, what can you do wrong? Until you do anything she’s dead.”

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