County needs 200 more defibrillators says medic

Dick Tracey from South Central Ambulance Service with a defibrillator installed in Eynsham, West Oxfordshire.  Picture: Steve Wheeler

Dick Tracey from South Central Ambulance Service with a defibrillator installed in Eynsham, West Oxfordshire. Picture: Steve Wheeler Buy this photo

First published in News
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Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

A SENIOR ambulance service manager is calling for an extra 200 defibrillators to help save lives across Oxfordshire.

And South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) divisional responder manager Dick Tracey has vowed to continue campaigning until the “day I drop”.

There are currently about 120 defibrillators – which treat patients suffering a cardiac arrest by giving electric shocks to the heart – installed across the county.

But Mr Tracey said to make sure there was one no more than 10 minutes away from every single person, the service needed about 200 more put in place.

He said: “It’s my desire that wherever you are, you should be no more than 10 minutes away from a publicly accessible defibrillator.

“There’s evidence to show that if someone is suffering from a cardiac arrest then the earlier the defibrillation, the greater chance of survival and the better quality of life post-survival.

“For every minute that ticks by the chances of a successful resuscitation diminishes by 10 per cent on average. I will be doing this until the day I drop.”

Mr Tracey’s plea comes as community groups across the county have raised money for defibrillators, which cost about £1,800 each, to be installed in public places.

West Oxfordshire District Council has pledged to match-fund money for the remaining 31 parishes across its area to have one each by the end of the year.

An anonymous donor gave a £43,000 gift to SCAS to fund 24 devices in West Oxfordshire last November.

Now the district council has set aside £28,000 for the remaining parishes and said 28 of these have so far taken up the offer.

The council’s cabinet member for health Mark Booty said: “We are delighted with the response and 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 are keen to get devices in place everywhere else as soon as possible.

“Defibrillators are of vital importance in a rural district like ours and we believe this scheme will make West Oxfordshire one of the safest places to live if you suffer cardiac arrest.”

On a mission to save lives

LIVES could be saved across Oxfordshire if money is raised for an extra 200 defibrillators in the county.

Dick Tracey, the ambulance service’s divisional responder manager, has said he wants to ensure everybody is within 10 minutes of the devices, which can revive somebody’s heart.

He said: “There’s a desire and recognition of the need to have these in the community.”

Oxford Mail:

Beth Chesney-Evans, 60, with her son Charles, 22, and husband Crispin, 71.                               

For Guy Evans’ family, they know all too well the importance of defibrillators.
The 17-year-old from Long Wittenham died from a heart attack in 2008 while riding his moped.

His friends with him didn’t know what to do and his family believe he may have survived if he had been given CPR or a defibrillator was used at the scene.

His mum Beth Chesney-Evans, 60, said: “No one knew what to do and none of the people who stopped had any first aid lessons, while the 999 operator unfortunately didn’t tell them what to do.

Oxford Mail:

Guy Evans

“He died of asphyxiation so the only thing that could have made a difference was if someone had known how to do CPR or if someone had a defibrillator.”

In 2012 the family, which also includes Guy’s dad Crispin and twin brother Charles, now 22, persuaded the parish council to give £1,000 towards installing a defibrillator in the village’s defunct red telephone box, the first of its kind.

The council bought the box from BT for £1 and residents raised more than £1,000 for the device, which includes a plaque to commemorate Guy.

Since then, Guy’s dad has spoken to other villages about transforming their phone boxes to fit a defibrillator.

The St John Ambulance First Aid Awards have also named an honour after Guy for young people who have made a difference to someone’s life through first aid.

Mrs Chesney-Evans said: “We were at the forefront of having defibrillators in villages and were the first village in Oxfordshire to have one installed in a phone box.

“Everyone can recognise a bright red phone box and they are usually right in the centre of the village.

“If someone is travelling through and has an accident they are likely to find it.

“It’s a great way of using the redundant phone box, which BT didn’t want anymore, and provides a really useful and important asset to the local community – one we hope no one will have to use but it’s there in case we do need it.

“This is also a worthy tribute to Guy.”

Mrs Chesney-Evans’ work highlights the emphasis on communities raising money on their own.

Funding has not been made available by Cherwell District Council or Oxford City Council, although 12 Oxfordshire County Council members have used their community budgets to wholly or partially fund defibrillators in their wards in the past two years.

South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council have both encouraged community groups to apply for funding under various grant schemes but said no communities have yet taken up the offer.

The city council’s executive member for public health Ed Turner said: “This issue has not had such a high profile in Oxford as in rural areas because ambulance response times are much better, and thus access to a defibrillator operated by a trained paramedic is better.

“Nonetheless, we are aware that a number of institutions, such as the universities, possess defibrillators and would be interested in any suggestions – for instance from the county council – about how we could support extending access.”

Cherwell District Council spokeswoman Jemma Callow said: “The council would be happy to assist in raising awareness about this important issue and to help where it can through its contacts with parish councils, voluntary and community groups to secure a greater number of defibrillators across the Cherwell area.”

100 additional volunteers are needed to help

ABOUT 100 more community first responders are needed in Oxfordshire, according to SCAS.

The ambulance service says there are about 200 volunteers across the county but it wants to increase this number by 50 per cent.

Volunteers are often the first people on the scene as they are locally-based and carry first-aid equipment and oxygen at all times, as well as having access to nearby defibrillators.

Oxford Mail:

James Clarke, managing director of Hook Norton Brewery and community first responder in Hook Norton and Banbury

James Clarke, 43, combines his job as managing director of Hook Norton Brewery to offer up to 80 hours of his time on-call in Hook Norton and Banbury, where he lives with Johanna – also a community responder – and their four children.

He is part of a team of five serving Hook Norton, near Chipping Norton, but says there are currently only three volunteers in Banbury, which has a population of more than 40,000 people.

Mr Clarke, a former retained firefighter, said: “If someone is having a cardiac arrest our aim is to ultimately get a defibrillator to them within 10 minutes.

“We provide as much cover as we can and I’ve been to calls where I’d like to think early intervention has made a difference.

“Often it’s where there is a degree of panic and you reassure them and calm them down.

“It doesn’t replace the blue light resources because they give the advanced treatment but we’re the first part of the pathway in treating people.”

Death of a man prompted Patsy to act

AFTER witnessing the death of a man from cardiac arrest in her workplace, Patsy Baker decided something needed to be done.

She had attended first aid training shortly after the tragedy in Thame Barns Centre in Church Road, Thame, about eight years ago and realised a defibrillator could have been the difference between life and death.

Oxford Mail:

Staying Alive members, left to right, Sinead Buckland, Karen Clark and Patsy Baker

Mrs Baker, joint manager at the community centre, said: “We did what we could but weren’t successful. If we’d had a defibrillator we don’t know if it would definitely have worked but you just never know.

“We were told on the first aid course that they can help save lives.

“It just seems a small price to pay and they are especially important nowadays because ambulances are taking up to 20 minutes to get to people as they aren’t parked around the corner anymore.”

Mrs Baker set up the Stayling Alive Thame action group with friends and colleagues, including Sinead Buckland, Karen Clark and Dan Wells.

The group has raised about £5,000 through fundraising activities and donations, using the money to install three defibrillators in the town.

They are positioned in the centre and outside the 1st Thame Scouts headquarters in Southern Road and Brothers hairdressers in Butter Market.

It has also worked with Lord Williams’s School to install a secure box on an outside wall that allows it to be used by the general public and aims to eventually have 10 publicly accessible defibrillators in the town.

Mrs Baker said: “When we got a device at the centre it got me thinking that I’d like to see them throughout the town.

“It just started as an idea and built from there as the four of us became very passionate about it.

“We’re encouraging sports centres, schools and offices that already have them to install boxes outside so anyone can use them.”

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

  • ANYONE can buy a defibrillator, which can then be stored in a public place.
  • Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are stored in public places, such as on walls outside a building or in a defunct red phone box.
  • They include vocal instructions telling people how to use it after they have obtained the security code by calling 999.
  • To apply for WODC’s defibrillator scheme, call the council on 01993 861000.
  • For more information on the South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council grants schemes, call 01491 823136 or email grants@southandvale.gov.uk
  •  Community groups and individuals looking to install a defibrillator should contact richard.tracey@scas.nhs.uk
  • To make a donation send a cheque payable to: South Central Ambulance, League of Friends,
  • Dick Tracey, divisional responder manager, c/o South Central Ambulance Service, Unit B3, Bridge House, Station Yard, Thame, OX9 3UH
  • To see a map of where devices are located, download the AED Locator UK mobile phone or iPad app or visit southcentralambulance.nhs.uk/
  • campaigns/startaheart.ashx

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