Our first Public Access Defibrillator

A Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) was recently installed at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, a device that could save a life for someone in cardiac arrest. The device is designed to be used and accessed by the public. A cardiac arrest may be caused as the result of a heart attack, it may be the person has a heart condition, it may just be spontaneous, but having both Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) started as soon as possible and a defibrillator to hand increases the chance of survival significantly. Without intervention a casualty in this state looses 10% of their chance of surving for every minute that passes.

A meeting at the start of 2014 with Mel Alexander (Thatcham Town Council), Naomi Mildenhall (Thatcham Neighbourhood Wardens), Dan Carter (Thatcham Neighbourhood Wardens) and Nick Young (Heartstart Thatcham) led to a team being established to look at the possibility of placing life saving equipment around Thatcham. The group soon expanded to include members of Thatcham Rotary Club (John Smart and Mike Cole), West Berkshire Council (Caroline Booth) and Richard Jackson (Henwick Worthy Sports Ground) with advice taken from David Hamer of South Central Ambulance Service.

There have been many helping to, and continuing to, raise funds for us to do this including Heartstart Thatcham’s fundraising team (Margaret Young, Kim Young, Pam Smith and Marie Pearce), Thames Valley Police (PC K Baker), Henwick Worthy Joint Management Committee, the Young Corn Exchange and many others.

Nick Young, Scheme Coordinator for Heartstart Thatcham, gave a scenario of how a device might be used:

A game of rugby is partway through when one of the spectators drops to the ground. The game stops and one of the player’s rushes of to the casualty. Someone picks a phone up and dials 999 for an ambulance. Meanwhile the player checks the casualty and finds they are not breathing. He starts CPR. The 999 operator, having been told the casualty is in cardiac arrest, gives the code to access the defibrillator. Once on scene the defibrillator is turned on and the instructions followed. The defibrillator will then check the casualty for a heart rhythm and if needed will shock them. The shock in theory will stop the heart from fibrillating and restore a normal heart rhythm.

Nick was keen to point out that the defibrillators are designed to be used by the public without any training. The devices tell you what to do and cannot be misused. If in doubt you will have the 999 operator on the phone who will be able to guide you through the process of checking the state of the casualty, performing CPR and using a defibrillator.

Nick noted, “this device is the first PAD that we have installed, the first of many which have the potential to save lives and make a real difference to the community. ” The team have permission to install another four devices in Thatcham, two in Newbury town centre and one at Cold Ash. More funds are required but gaining permission is a major step forward. The target is to get all the devices installed before the end of 2015. That wont be the end of it, the team are looking at pushing more out after then as well.

Heartstart Thatcham teach Emergency Life Support (ELS) skills for free in a short course and includes CPR and defibrillators. For more information see www.heartstartthatcham.info.