Heart charity calls for more public defibrillators

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A leading heart charity is calling for better access to public defibrillators, which it says could prevent thousands of deaths a year.

The Arrhythmia Alliance has recently installed its 3,000th automated external defibrillator (AED) as part of it’s ongoing Defibs Save Lives campaign.

There has been a growing awareness of the importance of defibrillator’s, highlighted by campaigns such as the Danny Jones fund, set up in memory of the rugby league player by his widow, Lizzie.

Danny Jones was a very fit 29-year-old professional rugby player when he collapsed during a game in 2015 and died of cardiac arrest. Since his death, Lizzie Jones has actively campaigned to raise awareness of the importance of defibrillators and through the fund provides grants to help community clubs buy their own.

But more public defibrillators are needed and since the launch of the Defibs Save Lives campaign in 2013, Arrhythmia Alliance has been on a mission to make defibrillators more commonplace and accessible to everyone. Trudie Lobban, founder and CEO of the charity said: “100,000 people die in the UK each year due to sudden cardiac death, and 80 per cent of these deaths could be avoided if diagnosed and treated, or a defibrillator was at hand when the episode happened.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heat stops beating without warning, it is not the same as a heart attack, which is when the blood supply to the heart is suddenly blocked. Restarting the heart as quickly as possible is vital.

AED’s administer an electric shock to the patient with the aim of restoring natural heart rhythm. Modern AEDs are computerised and designed to only deliver a shock if it is needed. Special sensors placed on the chest make that judgement and means they are safe and straightforward to use.

“Anyone of almost any age can use one,” said Mrs Lobban. “Training is not required; open the case and the machine starts to speak to you, telling you exactly where to place the two pads and includes a diagram. The machine does the rest, it is that simple.”

“We know of many people whose lives have been saved through the AEDs we and our partners have placed. However, more needs to be done.”

For every minute somebody has to wait before defibrillation, their chance of survival decreases by 10 per cent. Without early intervention, the chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest is just five per cent However, if CPR is administered quickly their chances increase to nine per cent and if there is speedy access to an AED the survival rate jumps up to 50 per cent.

Arrhythmia Alliance has more information on its website heartrhythmalliance.org.uk details on buying a public defribillator at its campaign site defibssavelives.org

Heartsafe, heartsafe.org.uk works with Arrhythmia Alliance creating a network of public access defibrillators.

The AED locator tells users where the nearest defibrillator is located and whether it is 24 hour (green heart) or limited (orange heart) access.

ipad-aed.com is the Danny Jones Fund page.