TODAY’S front page report that there has been a surge in interest in providing life-saving defibrillators for residents to use in rural emergencies is the kind of action needed to tackle unacceptably poor ambulance response times.

The devices are a fantastic invention. Anyone can immediately use one with no training to attempt to shock the heart back into life for victims of cardiac arrest.

This is vital for rural parts of counties like West Oxfordshire, where latest figures show about half the most serious cases are reached within eight minutes 75 per cent of the time, a key Government target.

This is less of an issue in Oxford – where about 90 per cent of calls are reached in that target – as more ambulances are stationed in the city due to its high population density.

We urge other people to consider contacting South Central Ambulance Service with a view to fundraising for a defibrillator.

A small amount of work could reap the benefits and save lives for years to come.

Yet the programme – which is aiming for 320 devices across the county – is not the answer to poor responses in rural areas.

Cardiac arrest is only one emergency that 999 crews deal with. Injuries, strokes, allergic reactions, the list of conditions that require specialist help goes on.

The Government must look again at rural response times as it is clear only a major cash injection will provide the number of ambulances needed to get to people quicker.

In the meantime, residents can do another very simple thing to prepare communities to save lives – learn first aid.

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