Although we often speak about the benefits of defibrillators here at Martek Lifecare, sometimes it’s easy to forget the real-world impact of defibrillators and the individual stories and experiences of the people whose lives they save.
Fortunately, most defibrillators will rarely be used regularly, if at throughout their lifetimes – but as an insurance and safety policy, they are essential to protect the public from the unpredictable onset of SCA. When defibrillators are used, they increase the chances of survival by over 90%.
This story shows just how vital close access to a defibrillator can be when a person suffers sudden cardiac arrest. This experience was made all the more remarkable because the patient suffered SCA at home and survived due to the quick thinking and support of his neighbours who remembered to locate a defibrillator and used it to save his life.
On December 8th 2021, 57-year-old Craig played football with friends when he began to feel unwell. He managed to return home, where the symptoms intensified – a tightness in his chest, accompanied by pain and sickness. Craig knew something was wrong – but as he was about to leave to go to the hospital, he collapsed.
What happened next saved Craig’s life. Heroic neighbours rushed to help him and began administering CPR, whilst another resident left to locate a defibrillator. In Craig’s village of Cleadon, a defibrillator had been funded and fitted by a local charity in the centre near to the pharmacy – and its proximity (and a high-profile campaign notifying residents of its whereabouts) meant that the neighbour was able to return with it quickly so that it could be used promptly. With telephone guidance from the emergency services, the neighbours then used the defibrillator successfully on Craig, managing to restart his heart.
Why is Craig’s story so remarkable?
Craig was incredibly fortunate on many levels – as not only did he have people close by when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest – they also remembered that a defibrillator had been installed nearby. As a result, they could use it to save his life. As Craig himself told the local press, “If it wasn’t for the defibrillator, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
It’s unusual to have access to a defibrillator to use in the home – but thanks to Craig’s proximity to the centre of his village, it was possible to retrieve it in good time and restart his heart before it was too late.
Cleadon’s defibrillator was installed in memory of another resident Jon Woodhouse, who unfortunately passed away due to a lack of access to an AED. But sadly, many communities have to wait until it is too late to install a defibrillator. Craig explained, “I found it quite alarming afterwards when I did a little research on how few defibrillators there are, and now I’m conscious when I’m walking around to see where they are. The more defibrillators we have available, the better news it is for people like me.”
Steps you can take to save a life
When SCA occurs, swift access to a defibrillator is vital as time is of the essence. For every minute that passes without one, a person’s chances of survival drop by 10%. Just 8% of people survive SCA, so being able to source and use an AED can significantly raise this statistic.
There are some things members of the public can do to ensure that the lives of family, friends and other local people are protected should SCA arise.
1/ First, look to see where your nearest defibrillator is. The lack of defibrillators available may surprise you. If you can’t find a defibrillator locally, consider contacting local authorities and community groups to raise awareness of this and request a review to action an installation nearby.
2/ Campaign or fundraise within your local community to increase the coverage of defibrillators. Some charity groups or local businesses will donate funds to have a defibrillator fitted in your area.
3/ Learn the steps to take if you suspect someone is suffering from SCA – calling the emergency services in the first instance, administering manual CPR whilst awaiting the arrival of a defibrillator or ambulance, then using a defibrillator without hesitation (you can find a guide on what to do if you suspect someone is in SCA here).
4/ Familiarise yourself and others with defibrillator FAQs and common myths. No training is required to use a defibrillator, but it is important to spread the word about how easy it is to use a defibrillator and how important it is to remember to use one. Instil confidence in anyone you speak to, especially if they are unsure of what to do, as hesitation when using an AED can cost lives. You can’t shock someone by accident, and there is no risk of legal repercussions when you use a defibrillator to revive someone who is critically ill.
By raising awareness of defibrillators, the importance of installation and their whereabouts and usage, we can save more lives each year.
Defibrillators for sports facilities
Had Craig stayed with his friends playing football, he may have been more likely to have access to a defibrillator in the immediate vicinity. But there are still thousands of sports centres and playing fields throughout the UK without a defibrillator accessible nearby. SCA can occur anytime, anywhere – but it can often be brought about through intense physical activity.
As Craig’s story shows, defibrillators in sports halls, schools, leisure centres and community hubs are vital to protect the public should sudden cardiac arrest occur in the vicinity.
Browse our range of defibrillators for sale or rental here, or get in touch for tailored advice on defibrillator selection, maintenance and operation.