East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) is spending £120,000 on life-saving machines for the community to help save lives.
In Northamptonshire, the fire and rescue service and local businesses have agreed to have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) available on their premises, making them accessible to local people.
AEDs are used when someone has gone into cardiac arrest. The defibrillator gives the heart an electric shock to allow effective cardiac rhythm to be re-established.
The best conditions for defibrillation are within one to two minutes of someone going into cardiac arrest, with success rates decreasing from then at up to 20 per cent per minute of delay.
Sarah-Jayne Parsons, EMAS community defibrillation officer for Northamptonshire, Leicestershire & Rutland said: “Nationally ambulance services are required to get to 75 per cent of life-threatening emergencies within eight minutes of the call being picked up. However, when it comes to cardiac arrest, seconds count and the use of a defibrillator while our crews travel to the scene can save a life.
“Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service already support us as co-responders, and we’re delighted they, along with businesses in the area, have agreed to be part of our new programme by allowing us to install the defibrillators at their properties.
“The defibrillators are stored in bright yellow cabinets which clearly state that the emergency equipment is available there. They are registered with our emergency operations centre so when we receive a 999 call reporting a cardiac arrest we can tell the caller where the defibrillator is located. The life-saving machines can be used by anyone who witnesses an arrest as the machine gives clear instructions on what to do.”
Chief fire officer Martyn Emberson said: “I am delighted that the fire and rescue service is able to support this life-saving initiative and I am sure that by working together in this way we can improve the life chances of people in Northamptonshire.”
Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, cabinet member for fire from Northamptonshire County Council said: “We already work with the ambulance service as co-responders, so were happy to extend this relationship by having defibrillators at our fire stations. This will make it easier for someone reporting a cardiac arrest to get hold of one of these life-saving machines as quickly as possible, potentially saving valuable time while waiting for an ambulance crew to arrive.”
EMAS is installing 127 defibrillators in strategic places across the East Midlands.
AEDs are most useful in rural communities with poor road networks or areas with traffic congestion, and places where large crowds gather such as sporting venues.
The service is also planning to increase the number of community first responder groups by 10 per cent every year for the next three years.
They are trained by EMAS and sent to 999 calls at the same time as ambulances and, as they are based in their communities, they can begin essential treatment until EMAS’ clinicians arrive.
In addition to the AED investment, EMAS is providing free emergency life-saving skills courses, teaching people to know what to do in an emergency such as cardiac arrest, choking and severe bleeding.
Information on future dates and venues for courses can be found on the EMAS website at www.emas.nhs.uk/get-involved/upcoming-events.