Heartstart trainees are shocked!

Heartstart Thatcham recently welcomed their newest member of the team, AED (Automated External Defibrillator) Little Anne, which has been purchased largely due to sponsorship from Laerdal Medical and Thatcham Rotary Club, in addition to a great deal of fundraising. The welcome was made at the latest training event held at, and for members of, Donnington Valley Golf Club. Scheme Coordinator, Dr Nick Young, noted that in the event of a Cardiac Arrest getting CPR started and an AED to the scene are vital, the sooner CPR is started, the better the chance of survival is. Without any intervention, CPR and/or an AED, the chances of a casualty surviving a Cardiac Arrest decrease by approximately 10% for every minute that passes and thus why it is so vital that someone steps in and takes action.

AED practical

Trainees placing AED pads on a casualty and ensuring area is clear prior to delivering a shock.

Nick was keen to point out that practical AED is not part of the standard Heartstart course as set out by the British Heart Foundation and that it is offered as an independent addition by the Heartstart Thatcham team. The theory of AEDs has been covered on the course but with a training system the use of an AED can be shown to attendees and also allows the attendees to practice with it.  The team have had to liaise with the British Heart Foundation and others to be able to offer this as an extension to the course, which has not only required the equipment but also additional training for instructors and insurance to be put in place. Scheme Director, David Hamer from South Central Ambulance Service, together with the Training Supervisor, Naomi Mildenhall from Thatcham Neighbourhood Wardens, and Scheme Coordinator, Nick Young, have been planning this addition for some time, all three now delighted to have this extension to the course in place.

All of the trainees, which included Mr J Smart who is responsible for having the AED installed in Thatcham (see here for details), at the event were able to try the AED for themselves. Each were given a slightly different scenario, asked to attach the AED to the casualty and deliver a shock. The trainees were a little apprehensive at first, but soon became comfortable learning first hand that the AED will not deliver a shock unless it is needed and thus not being able to harm the casualty any further, but potentially being able to save their life.

Heartstart Awards

Trainees after completing the standard Heartstart course with their certificates.

Heartstart Thatcham teaches basic Emergency Life Support (ELS) skills to the public, for free and covers, currently the areas around Thatcham and Newbury, but can go further afield if required. Topics covered include:

  • Priorities/the conscious casualty
  • The unconscious casualty
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Suspected heart attack
  • Choking

"We do not offer a full blown first aid course, we couldn't do that for free, what we do is teach you enough that you can cope until professional help arrives.  Unless you are in a remote place that help should only be minutes away, but minutes can and do make a difference so being able to step in really can make a difference"  said Nick.  The team will be at several local events over the next few months including the Thatcham Volunteer Fair on 22nd March for people who want to learn more about Heartstart Thatcham.

AED Anne

Two of our attendees with AED Little Anne.

Photographs by Naomi Mildenhall and Nick Young.

NOTE: AED practical is NOT part of the Heartstart course as set out by the British Heart Foundation, it is offered as an addition by us, independent of the British Heart Foundation. This requires additional insurance and guidance.