DOZENS of towns and villages across West Oxfordshire will get defibrillators, under a scheme that health bosses say will save lives.
An anonymous donation from someone whose life was saved by a defibrillator will see 24 of the £1,800 devices – which shock the heart back to life – provided in the district.
And council leaders yesterday agreed funding to go towards 30 more for the rest of the district.
The move follows concerns about poor ambulance response times to rural areas of West Oxfordshire.
The issue has seen Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron criticise health bosses for failing to meet targets to get to three quarters of the most urgent emergencies within eight minutes.
Now the latest move means West Oxfordshire will become the first rural district in the country to have this level of coverage.
The amount of money the donor has given has not been disclosed, but the donor has said that some specific towns and villages should receive the defibrillators.
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) responder department manager Dick Tracey said: “There is no question – it will save additional lives.
“Sudden cardiac arrest is the UK’s single biggest killer and when somebody goes into this horrendous medical condition the chances of successful resuscitation reduces by 10 per cent per minute.
“CPR can buy time but the definitive treatment for this is a shock from a defibrillator.”
There are 54 towns and parishes – rural areas which might have one or more villages – in West Oxfordshire. The district council has agreed to pay half the cost of the £1,800 defibillators for the 30 villages which do not get one as a result of this donation – meaning local town or parish councils would have to pay the remaining £900, while training will be offered by SCAS.
People across the county who have campaigned for defibrillators to be installed in villages in other areas have praised the scheme.
Heather Richards, whose 41-year-old husband Graham died from cardiac arrest in August 2012, said: “I think it is absolutely fantastic. I know it is something that will be welcomed.
“It is going to have an impact on the NHS as it will provide an extra layer of support in the villages.”
Lona Fedorowicz, 48, landlady of the Prince of Wales in Church Way, Iffley, wants to install the machine on the front of the pub after her 92-year-old father Kazimierz Fedorowicz had a non-fatal heart attack.
She said: “It is fantastic. Having defibrillators in more places can only be of benefit.
“I hoped Oxford city would follow suit. We are doing our bit to make people aware, but this will add to that.”
Long Wittenham installed a defibrillator in its old BT phone box last year in memory of villager Guy Evans, 17, who was killed in a motorbike accident in 2008 after his heart stopped.
His mother, Beth Chesney-Evans, said: “It is terrific. It will make a huge difference. We raised the money locally and we were lucky as we had the support of the parish council.
- Community defibrillation officer Martin Bullock, from the London Ambulance Service, explains why more defibrillators in public places will save more lives
Beth Chesney-Evans, front, with Crispin Evans, rear centre, the parents of teenager Guy Evans, his twin brother Charles, left, and Tom Bowtell of the parish council with defibrillator at the Long Wittenham phone box
“You hope no one would ever have to use it, but knowing it is there helps. If you have an attack and are treated with a defibrillator then you have extra time and a better chance of survival.”
District councillor Mark Booty, the deputy leader of the council, said: “This will not stop our lobbying to decrease ambulance response times, but it delivers to our residents a unique situation where there is public access to defibrillators right the way across the district and people who are trained to use them.”
In December 2012, the Oxford Mail reported that just 52.8 per cent of life-threatening district emergencies were reached in eight minutes, against a target of 75 per cent.
But SCAS chief executive Will Hancock said it would never be able to guarantee life-saving cover, which would need 90 more county ambulances.
A West Oxfordshire District Council report said the plan will help the “under pressure” ambulance service and give “the best possible chance of surviving cardiac arrest”.
WHO GETS IT?
The following villages have already been given defibrillators:
- Shipton-under-Wychwood will be getting a defibrillator next week
The following towns and villages are in the pipeline:
- The rest are yet to be decided.
How to use
Operator will give you a code to access the defib
The defib will have audio instructions
Turn the machine on
Put the pads on the patient’s chest
If patient is in cardiac arrest, it will prompt you to shock