FOUR of the nine defibrillators destined for locations in Eskdale have been installed.
They have gone live at Eskdalemuir Hub, Benty hall, Ewes hall and Cross Keys Hotel in Canonbie.
In the next couple of weeks they go live at Langholm town hall, the Craig, Chapelknowe and Glenzier, along with Rowanburn later this summer.
The project was voluntarily undertaken by firefighters Jamie Fletcher and Ian Donald and began almost two years ago.
They identified that the existing five Eskdale defibrillators had flat batteries, out-of-date shock pads, damaged cabinets and none was registered with the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).
This meant the SAS could not direct the public to a device in an emergency.
Ian and Jamie did a lot of research and applied for funding, securing £36,073 with the help of Eskdalemuir community council.
Nick Jennings, chairman, said: “We were happy to be involved in facilitating the project.
“Despite being one of the smallest and most remote community councils, we took a leading role in helping to secure and manage its finances.
“It’s very satisfying to see the defibrillators in place and to know we have helped to make this happen.
“We’re very grateful to Ian and Jamie who have driven this forward. We’ve been through some twists and turns along the way but we will have defibrillators of the highest quality all over the area.”
Ian said: “We’ve reached a milestone with the project. After encountering manufacturing problems with our first choice of cabinets, we had to source an alternative, which took a lot of time and significantly delayed the project, but we’re very happy with the final purchases.
“The cabinets are made from stainless steel and heated and insulated so they’ll last a long time and protect the defibrillators from the elements.”
Jamie said: “After research, we decided it would be advantageous to operate the defibrillators as part of the Community Heartbeat Trust.
“This charity helps and supports communities in the correct provision of
defibrillators in a sustainable, resilient and governance-led manner.
“Through the trust we have been able to buy grade one Zoll defibrillators which give both verbal and visual instructions to rescuers.
“This is great for people who have never used a defibrillator, as is often the case.”
Ian added: “Other benefits of operating as part of the trust include having a five-year management plan for every defibrillator.
“This gives us all the replacement resources we need in that period, like shock pads.
They provide post-incident rescuer counselling if needed and work directly with the ambulance services, as necessary.”
Every day in the UK more than 80 people have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. (OHCA).
A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and they stop breathing normally.
The heart still beats but not properly (abnormal rhythm). As medical emergencies go, it doesn’t get more urgent than this.
If defibrillation (a shock) and CPR are not administered immediately, the person will most likely die within a few minutes.
After three minutes, for every minute, which passes without defibrillation, the person’s chance of survival reduces by 10 per cent. This is a life-or-death situation and every second counts.
A cardiac arrest should not be confused with a heart attack. A heart attack is when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked.
The heart muscle is robbed of its vital blood supply and, if left untreated, will begin to die because it is not getting enough oxygen.
Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) can detect an abnormal heart rhythm, administer electrical stimulus (shock) and restore a normal heart rhythm.
These remarkable devices must be accessed quickly in an emergency and, for this reason, PADs are now being placed in communities and saving lives every day.
Jamie said: “The cabinets are locked and need a code to open them. This is given by the SAS when someone rings 999.
“This is for security and also, in an emergency, it has been known for people to rush and remove the defibrillator and forget to ring 999 for an ambulance, which is imperative. This procedure avoids that happening.
Ian added: “We strongly advise everyone to make sure they know where their nearest PAD is because you never know when you might need one.
“When calling 999, the public may not always be told where their nearest device is if they are outwith the distance activation zones.
“If they know where the nearest one is and there are two people with the casualty and the casualty is not breathing or breathing properly, one should start CPR immediately while the other calls 999 and goes and fetches the defibrillator.
“The public don’t have to wait until someone has a cardiac arrest before deploying a defibrillator.
“If someone feels unwell, with chest pains, for example, ring 999 and get the defibrillator.
“It may or may not be needed but it greatly increases the chances of survival if it is present and is needed.”
Jamie said: “We’d like to thank Eskdalemuir community council, our funders, hosts and defibrillator guardians who will do the fortnightly checks to ensure the devices are available 24/7 and replenished if deployed.
“We have created a Facebook page Eskdale Defibrillators and encourage people to follow our progress.
“We will post information and awareness videos so the public know how to use the defibrillators and, when social distancing rules allow, we will deliver training sessions in Eskdale.”
Ian added: “We have bought a training defibrillator and a state-of-the-art training manikin which will enhance the training for people.
“We were also delighted when Jim and Sandra Thomson of Langholm bought two Baby Anne manequins. We thank them for this very kind gesture. It’s very much appreciated.”