WEST Oxfordshire is set to get a comprehensive network of heart defibrillators after almost every eligible community took up an offer of funding.

West Oxfordshire District Council offered to fund 50 per cent of the cost of each device, up to £900, if each community raises the balance needed to buy the defibrillators, which shock the heart back into a normal rhythm after a cardiac arrest.

An anonymous donor has already given devices to 24 communities in the district and the council has offered the financial support to the remaining 30 parishes and towns.

Mark Booty, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for health, said: “We will be getting the ball rolling with the funding as soon as we can.

“Most of the anonymously-donated defibrillators have now been installed and we’re keen to get devices in place everywhere else.”

The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust will provide training to teach residents how to use the defibrillators before they are installed, although they come with simple instructions on how to operate them.

Dick Tracey, the service’s divisional responder manager, said: “When someone goes into cardiac arrest, time is of the essence. Having these machines, particularly in the villages, will significantly increase chances of survival.”

The boxes are kept locked but anyone calling 999 during a cardiac emergency will be given a code by ambulance service controllers to unlock the box.

Residents in Hailey had already begun a campaign to raise the £1,800 for a defibrillator and Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron paid a visit to unveil it last month. It has been installed on an outside wall at the Lamb and Flag pub, in Middletown.

Chipping Norton and Aston have also bought defibrillators after community campaigns supported by local Lions and Round Table groups.