Funding for Life Saving Equipment

 Monday 24 February 2014

Local communities across Scotland are to benefit from a £100,000 investment to increase the number of public access defibrillators across Scotland.

The Scottish Government funding will allow the Scottish Ambulance Service to purchase and deploy defibrillators across the country, providing local communities with life saving equipment and training.

The £100,000 scheme will help to fund equipment that has up until now been almost entirely funded through community, charitable or business resources. It costs approximately £3,000 to purchase, fit and install one defibrillator.

Health Secretary Alex Neil was today visiting Aberdeen Health Village where he met ambulance staff and trained first responders who demonstrated the difference a defibrillator can make.

Mr Neil said: “Early CPR and defibrillation, quickly followed up by advanced life-support from an ambulance team, can greatly improve chances of survival from a cardiac arrest. By putting this life saving equipment in the hands of local communities, and giving them the appropriate training, we can help people on the ground administer life saving care in the minutes before the ambulance service arrives.

“I’m delighted to be able to announce the funding for these defibrillators and by working with the Scottish Ambulance Service, we hope that people and communities across Scotland will reap the benefits.

The Scottish Ambulance Service provides advice and guidance to any council, community, organisation or business interested in developing a publicly accessible defibrillator. This community resilience initiative is part of a wider emergency life support programme run by the Scottish Ambulance Service in conjunction with third sector and private partners, including British Heart Foundation Scotland.

This new fund complements the Emergency Life Support project funded by the Scottish Government to allow British Heart Foundation Scotland to bring 40 more schools into their Heartstart scheme, eventually training up to 8,000 school students in giving CPR - a vital link in the chain of survival while a defibrillator is activated.

Bernard Gallacher, who set up the Bernard Gallacher Defibrillator Campaign after suffering a heart attack last year, said:

“This is fantastic news. Personally I’d like defibrillators to be as ubiquitous as fire extinguishers because they are lifesavers, pure and simple. When I had my cardiac arrest last August, I was so grateful that the Marquess Hotel had a defibrillator on the site, and that there were people there to help. Had there not been one available the consequences would have been tragic for my family, and I am truly delighted that the Scottish Government has provided funding for these vital pieces of equipment that will save hundreds of lives. These fully automated machines are simple to use and can be operated by members of the public and it is important that people are confident to use them. Everyone deserves the same chance I had last August.”

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “The additional public access defibrillators will make a positive contribution to safer and sustainable communities around the country.  While we have world class ambulance response times in Scotland, we know that in cardiac cases every second counts and that equipping communities with basic life saving skills and equipment will further improve survival rates.”

Marjory Burns, Director of British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “When someone has a cardiac arrest their chances of survival decrease with every passing minute.

“That’s why it’s vital that people know what to do in the event of a cardiac arrest. This includes calling 999 immediately, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and have access to a defibrillator as soon as possible. The more people who are trained in what to do in the event of a cardiac arrest the more lives we can save in the future.”

In February 2012, Clydebank-based Ambulance Technician Brian Martin was playing five-aside football with colleagues, when he collapsed in cardiac arrest.

Working as a team, Brian’s colleagues started cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), while they retrieved a shock box located in the leisure complex. This was used to deliver one shock, which returned Brian’s heart to normal rhythm. The shock box had been donated to the complex through the British Heart Foundation’s “Saving Lives in Glasgow” appeal.

A Paramedic ambulance was then quickly on scene to provide care and to take Brian to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, where he underwent successful surgery. Brian made a full recovery and returned to his role within the Scottish Ambulance Service.

He said: “It’s because there was a defibrillator available which my colleagues used that I am here to tell the tale. If I hadn’t survived I would have missed my daughters first day at school”