THEY can be the difference between life and death, but about 200 more defibrillators are needed in Oxfordshire. The Oxford Mail is backing a senior ambulance manager’s campaign for more of the devices to be installed by rural communities
WHILE this week’s Oxford Mail reported on the need for more defibrillators, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) divisional responder manager Dick Tracey also wants to know about those used by businesses and community groups.
Mr Tracey, who is responsible for securing public access to defibrillators, said it is essential they are registered so more people can use them.
The devices require no training and give voice instructions, providing vital help in rural areas as paramedics have to travel long distances and therefore ambulance response times are poorer.
He said: “There’s an awful lot of companies, organisations and clubs that have quite wisely bought a defibrillator, but what they haven’t done is told us about it.
“They, maybe, don’t feel there’s a need, but if we know about that defibrillator, then if someone goes into cardiac arrest we can direct them to it.
“You can only imagine the anxieties that people will experience during an incident.
“It could be that they actually forget there’s a defibrillator in their reception, but if we’re aware we can remind them when they call 999.
“Or, if someone collapses outside a club or office building, then we can tell a person who calls that there’s one next to them.
“There’s many advantages to letting us know.”
There are about 120 defibrillators in the county but Mr Tracey wants to see this rise to at least 320 by next May.
He wants every person to be within 10 minutes of a device wherever they are in the county.
Since the Oxford Mail first reported on his campaign last month, there has been a surge in interest and another 23 machines are to be installed.
Community groups, parish councils and individuals have come forward and raised money for the machines, which cost £1,800 and can be fitted on walls in a secure box.
Under the NHS Constitution, ambulances have to reach the most seriously ill patients within eight minutes for 75 per cent of calls.
Latest figures, for April 1 to May 15 this year, show this was 92 per cent in Oxford, but 52 per cent in rural West and South Oxfordshire.
In Cherwell the figure was 84 per cent and 70 per cent in Vale of White Horse.
But Mr Tracey said: “There’s no correlation between the two and defibrillators are important everywhere. “The reason is that if someone can be given a shock even just a minute before the ambulance arrives, they’ve given that person a better chance.”
- To register a defibrillator, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Roberts with Millie
Campaign launched for county's schools
A CAMPAIGN to fund defibrillators in schools is spreading through Oxfordshire, with Crowmarsh Gifford Primary School, near Wallingford, the latest to benefit.
Sarah Roberts, 45, set up the Millie’s Dream charity last September because her seven-year-old daughter Millie was born with a congenital heart disease, which affects its rhythm.
She is under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital and had an operation in January to implant a Reveal Insertable Cardiac Monitor to record heart activity.
Miss Roberts, from Henley, realised the need for defibrillators after former Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed during a game in March 2012 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Her charity, which has Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger as a patron, has since raised more than £25,000 to buy 28 defibrillators for primary and secondary schools in South Oxfordshire.
Many are installed outside so they are publicly available.
The first devices were donated to Henley and its surrounding villages, but physiotherapist Miss Roberts is building her campaign to reach the rest of the county.
She said: “When Muamba collapsed it was so apparent that he would never have been with us if he didn’t have defibrillator support and a fantastic surgeon. I started thinking what would happen if something happened to Millie or anyone else in the family so decided to set up a charity.
“Oxfordshire has got hundreds of tiny little hamlets which are so far away from the nearest ambulance station and they only need 15 people to donate £100 to get this life-saving equipment.”
SPORTS CLUBS NEED TO BE EQUIPPED
SPORTS clubs have been targeted for improving first aid access by the widow of a footballer who died on the pitch.
Nikki Rouse-Thompson, 42, of Aston, West Oxfordshire, set up the Legacy for a Legend charity after husband Paul died from a rare form of heart failure in July 2012.
She has raised £12,000 for three defibrillators and first-aid training for teams in the Witney and District League along with her husband’s friend Steve Hawkins.
Mrs Rouse-Thompson said: “The whole package should be available to people who play sport because people do walk around with heart conditions they are unaware of and if the heart is under pressure then these events can happen.
“But the equipment is not just beneficial for football players because anyone may need to use it.
“We are also looking at where defibrillators are kept. We are trying to get them close to football pitches, but also so they can be accessed by anyone in the village.”
Mr Thompson collapsed in Burwell Meadow, Witney, during a pre-season training session with Witney Royals Football Club.
Despite attempts by team mates and paramedics to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead on the field half-an-hour later.
An inquest recorded that he had two minor heart valve abnormalities, which contributed to his death.
Mother-of-four Mrs Rouse-Thompson, a registered nurse, pictured, said he was given a shock by a defibrillator used by a St John Ambulance volunteer living nearby, but it came too late.
She said: “We don’t know if it would have helped, but it came after a while.
“The lady only had it by chance, otherwise we would have had to wait until the paramedics arrived.
“For me, that’s what highlighted the need for defibrillators to be close to football grounds.”
Mrs Rouse-Thompson’s charity, which is in partnership with the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, is in the process of donating defibrillators to the football pitches at Burwell Meadow, Milton-under-Wychwood and Ducklington, while she hopes to have another three devices in place by the end of the year.
She has worked with SCAS to find out which villages do not have devices positioned close to football grounds.
The charity has also used qualified first aid trainers to teach about 40 people involved in football teams for free, but is disappointed more people haven’t taken up the offer.
Mrs Rouse-Thompson, who has lobbied for support from the Oxfordshire FA, said: “We would have liked more people to come forward for the charity.
“I don’t know whether it’s because people don’t want the responsibility in case something happened.
“It’s not something to be scared of. Even if one life can be saved then it’s the greatest gift, not just for that person, but to their family and friends.”
- For more information visit legacyforalegend.org.uk
Fundraiser: A village shop owner wants to raise money for up to six defibrillators in East Hendred, near Wantage.
Martin Johnson, pictured, who runs Hendred Stores, is organising quizzes, a barn dance and a collection bucket.
The 59-year-old, who was fitted with a pacemaker two years ago because of a slow heartbeat, said: “It made me realise how important it is. I go on holiday to France quite a lot and they are commonplace there – almost every 100m you see a defibrillator, so for the price of them it’s absolutely essential.”
Mobile phone app
A MOBILE phone app is available to show where the nearest defibrillator can be found.
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust was the first in the country to launch such an app last November.
Users of the free app – also available for tablet devices – type in where they are to find out the location of the nearest device. The app gives advice on what to do when someone suffers a cardiac arrest and a button to transfer the user to 999.
To download the app for Apple devices, visit southcentralambulance.nhs.uk, or search “AED locator UK” in the Apple app store.
The app is not yet available on Android devices.
Go to: www.southcentralambulance.nhs.uk/
ABOUT 600 people die from coronary heart disease each year in Oxfordshire, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
South Central Ambulance Service said there were about 527 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Oxfordshire in the year up to June 30 and every minute without CPR and defibrillation can reduce chances of survival by 10 per cent.
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are stored in public places, such as on walls outside a building or in a defunct red phone box.
They have vocal instructions which tell someone how to use it.
Anyone can get access by calling 999, when an operator will tell the caller where the nearest device is located and the code to open it.
Dick Tracey, divisional responder manager of the SCAS, said: “All you have to do is switch the machine on and it will get you through the process. It won’t let you shock someone who doesn’t need one.
“If you inadvertently mistake a cardiac arrest for someone unconscious it would recognise that person has a heartbeat and it wouldn’t charge up.”
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