Imagine if somebody collapsed in front of you – and you had the chance of stopping them dying.
Having an accessible, fool-proof machine that could save a life installed in your community should be a no-brainer, right?
Automated External Defibrillators, (AEDs), mean people who are not even trained in first aid can still keep a cardiac arrest patient alive until ambulance personnel arrive.
They work by “shocking” a person’s heart into restarting within the crucial first few minutes – and can ensure a 60 to 70 per cent chance of making a full recovery.
Ambulance bosses want these to be as common as fire extinguishers.
I am told the 999 operator will give you the code to unlock the device from where it’s mounted (so it can’t be stolen, obviously).
Then the machine guides you through with spoken instructions. – once you’ve attached the pads to the patient – the machine will assess the need for CPR, and only deliver the shock should it be needed.
In other words, anyone who’s inclined to panic (and let’s face it people do!) being reassured they will not be making the situation any worse.
Ambulances bosses I interviewed said the number of AEDs needs to be boosted five-fold in the county (there are currently about 1,000).
But they stressed that local people must come forward and tell them where they’re needed.
So of course, I thought – well, why not moot the idea of having one where I live? Obviously the easiest way to get the discussion going was – in my local!
The first person I spoke to, apart from emphasising that yes, the devices were fool-proof, said that ordinary CPR was just as effective, but as we were literally just up the road from the local ambulance station, he wasn’t sure that a request to have a community defibrillator would be approved.
A charity offering support getting these things installed is specifically asking people to come forward if you don’t have one within 200 metres of where you are!
The issue of panicking is one that we all agreed was very pertinent, but would it stop people having a go?
I then made a point of approaching another guy who’s a key player in the local residents’ committee – and surprise, surprise, they’re already in the process of getting one, having only just discussed the matter at their meeting last week.
Which I am very glad to hear. I still passed on the relevant contact details.
Authorities say the number of AEDs in one local town is four – but when you get out to another rural area, that figure rises to nearer sixteen.
In other words, there would appear to be more self-sufficiency in the remoter areas, whereas an element of complacency remains, the more urban you get.
That attitude did appear to prevail in my straw poll, although I’m pretty confident most people do not think “there’s an ambulance ‘round every corner”.
I’m hoping that, for everybody’s sake, we won’t be denied an AED because of the ambulance station down the hill.
And that we really will “be getting one”.
(Please note: the views expressed in this article are my own and not related to any organisation I work for.)