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Community push sees Wotton-under-Edge become hot spot for public use defibrillators

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Author: Contributed, Posted: Thursday, 14th February 2019, 16:00

Year 13 student and a founding member of the British Heart Foundation’s new group at KLB school Becca Marsh demonstrating the use of a defib on a resuscitation mannequin. Year 13 student and a founding member of the British Heart Foundation’s new group at KLB school Becca Marsh demonstrating the use of a defib on a resuscitation mannequin.

A small market town in the south of the Cotswolds has become one of the safest places in the country for someone experiencing a cardiac arrest.

Only a few months after Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire was nominated as one of the top two market towns in England it is now claiming to be one of the country’s hottest spots for defibrillators.

Following a couple of recent, fatal cardiac arrests a massive response from the entire community has resulted in a total of 14 defibrillators, or cPADs (Community Public Access Defibrillators), being available within easy access to its population of around 6,000 in the event of an emergency.

In addition, just a mile down the road in the neighbouring village of Kingswood, with a population of around 1,500, there are three more defibs in place with another two planned.

It is also hoped to enlarge the scheme to cover some of the other outlying communities in the locality.

“The level of support has been tremendous,” said the Chair of the Kingswood and Wotton Defibrillator Awareness Group David Owen. “Four defibrillators are as a result of individual, personal donations.

“The money for the others has come from a very effective fundraising campaign spearheaded by the Wotton Lions and supported by the likes of local pub The Royal Oak and our local Bowls club, rugby club, Round Table and the Kingswood Village Association.

“Generous contributions have also been received from the area’s largest employer, Renishaw, and Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School, our local secondary school.”

All of this work is being conducted in close collaboration with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SWAST).

A spokesperson for the Community Responder Department of SWAST said: “There has been a magnificent response by the community to raise funds and locate this many defibrillators.

“More than 36,000 people are treated by ambulance staff every year in England because they suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

"Basic Life Support and lifesaving defibrillator support needs to be delivered as soon as possible. For every minute that passes once in cardiac arrest, a person loses a further 10% chance of survival so, considering this dramatic reduction, there is a need to have a defibrillator within four to five minutes’ walk.”

David added: “We won’t be stopping even when we have installed the last of the 19 defibrillators.

“We are already embarking on an awareness raising campaign which will cover the locations of the defibs, how to use them and, perhaps most importantly of all, we will continue to emphasise that defibs are easy to use and that you cannot harm the patient.”

A defibrillator is a device used to give an electric shock to help restart a patient’s heart when they are in cardiac arrest.

When someone suffers a cardiac arrest the heart stops and blood is no longer being pumped around their body. Automatic or semi-automatic defibrillators (cPADs) are easy and safe to use by anyone with little or no training. The device talks and displays what you need to do.

“There is nothing magic about what we have done here,” continued David. “It is the result of a tremendous response to a very real problem.

“If we can do it then anyone can and it would be wonderful if this could be an inspiration and act as a model for other communities across the country.”

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