Helping to Save Lives: New Defibrillator installed in a village in Redditch

Beoley residents who have been instrumental in fundraising for the new village defibrillator; Paul Leyser and Helen Barker with Rob Underwood and Beoley First School’s Head Teacher Sally Davis

Beoley residents who have been instrumental in fundraising for the new village defibrillator; Paul Leyser and Helen Barker with Rob Underwood and Beoley First School’s Head Teacher Sally Davis

Beoley First School, near Redditch, recognised the importance and value to its pupils, staff and the wider community of having a defibrillator on its premises. The school approached the Redditch-based charity “Charlotte & Craig Saving Hearts Foundation”, which was set up by Rob and Maggie Underwood following the death from cardiac arrest of two of their children. Charlotte died in December 2010 and Craig three years later in December 2013 – both only teenagers.

The Charlotte & Craig Saving Hearts Foundation has already installed a defibrillator in every school in Redditch and is currently trying to replicate that throughout the Bromsgrove area. Through their own fundraising efforts, they supply an Automated External Defibrillator, which is the type of defibrillator designed for use by laypeople and suitable for public access sites. They invite schools to do some fundraising towards the cost, in order to create a sense of ownership and to maximise the number of defibrillators that they can supply.

Beoley First School felt that they wanted to raise as much money towards the cost of a defibrillator and a public access storage cabinet as they possibly could. In that way, the charity’s own funds would be available to provide another defibrillator elsewhere. The school’s defibrillator will not only be available for use at the school, but will be accessible 24 hours a day for use by the whole local community. Fundraising efforts have resulted in donations from many sources, including Beoley Village Hall, Beoley Parish Council and many individuals.

A common misconception is that a heart attack kills you; a “heart attack” is not the same as a cardiac arrest. If someone suffers a heart attack, it is when a blockage prevents blood getting to the heart. In that scenario, a person experiencing a heart attack is often conscious. With a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and the person is unconscious.

Rob Underwood demonstrated CPR during a practical awareness session at the village school last month

Rob Underwood demonstrated CPR during a practical awareness session at the village school last month

 

A defibrillator may be used, in conjunction with CPR (CardioPulmonary Resuscitation), to help save the life of a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest. A problem with the electrical system of the heart can cause it to suddenly stop beating, which means blood is no longer being pumped around the body. CPR increases the chances of survival as it ensures that a flow of oxygen rich blood is pumped to the brain and vital organs. It also increases the likelihood of the heart remaining in a “shockable” rhythm, which means the chances of resuscitating someone with a shock from a defibrillator are greater. A modern defibrillator, of the type supplied to Beoley First School, is easy to use without any specialised training and will determine whether it needs to shock the patient to restart the heart. It will guide the user with “spoken” instructions of what to do.

Increasingly, defibrillators are being installed in local communities so that a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest might stand a better chance of survival whilst waiting for an ambulance and trained medical staff to arrive. There is a “smartphone app” called CROWDSAV that will tell you where the nearest defibrillators are, wherever you are located. If you have a smartphone, why not install it and tell others about it? That small action may one day help save the life of someone.

Although specialist training in the use of a defibrillator is not essential, as the device “talks” you through how to use it, awareness and familiarity always helps. Members of the local Beoley community have had a practical awareness session, with another one arranged for the end of April.

The fantastic fundraising efforts co-ordinated by the school have been sufficiently successful that it is hoped to enable the purchase of a second defibrillator to be located elsewhere in Beoley village.

For more information about the Charlotte & Craig Saving Hearts Foundation charity, or about defibrillators, contact Rob Underwood on 07794 637073, or email to info@ccshf.org.uk or look at their website www.ccshf.org.uk.