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Kind hearted gesture

Donating defibrillators

Showing they have their heart in the right place, County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has 30 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to donate and wants to hear from community groups and venues that might benefit from having one of these life-saving devises close by.

Sudden cardiac arrest is an important cause of death in all developed western countries. In the UK there are likely to be approximately 60,000 cases annually. In England, the ambulance service attempts resuscitation in approximately 25,000 cases per annum but, at present, sadly, only a small proportion of these people survive.  The major factor limiting the number of people who survive sudden cardiac arrest is the ability to provide defibrillation within a critical time. Every minute that passes, the victim's chance of survival falls by around 7 - 10%.   

AED's provide a high energy electric shock to restore the heart's normal rhythm.  They are easy to use, compact, portable and very effective. They are designed to be used by lay persons; the machines guide the operator through the process by verbal instructions and visual prompts. They are safe and will not allow a shock to be given unless the heart's rhythm requires it.

Following a routine upgrade of the trust's defibrillators, Tracy Storey and Danielle Walker, from the Cardiac Arrest Prevention Team, saw an opportunity to benefit the local community. Tracy says, "Within healthcare settings, it's important to have the latest equipment.  But the AED's we're giving away are in excellent working order and have been fully maintained."

"The beauty of automated external defibrillators is that they're designed for anyone to use, no medical knowledge is necessary.  You switch it on and not only does an automated voice talk you through what to do, but pictures demonstrating how to use the machine also come up on a small screen.

"The most important thing is to have a defibrillator close by when a sudden cardiac arrest happens, and that's where we come in."

Danielle, adds, "We want to hear from local organisations or venues that are a focus for their community so that as many people as possible can potentially benefit from having a life-saving defibrillator nearby.   For example, a well-used village hall would be a perfect location.  AED's can also be positioned in secure boxes specially designed for this purpose, on external walls, for easy access.  The box can be opened with a code or remotely by phoning a designated number and we are happy to offer advice on this."

Tracy says, "AED's are lightweight, easy to carry devices, which can be saving a life within minutes.

"Danielle and I are happy to come along to demonstrate how to use the defibrillators and also deliver training in basic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).  We are both passionate about sharing our knowledge and understand the difference having this skill can make when the stakes are so high and action has to be taken instantly."

Darlington Woodland Bowling Club has recently received one of the AED's.  Club Secretary, Tom Vout, said, "We have approximately 70 players and a further 90 social members, the majority of whom are over 65.  We have a very busy programme of activity throughout the year, including home matches against other clubs, so there are often a lot of people at the club.  Having this defibrillator on site gives us the peace of mind that in the event of the unthinkable happening, we can take immediate action.  We are very grateful to the Trust for its generosity."

Clubs and other organisations interested in having one of the defibrillators should email: or phone: 0191 3332829 or 01325 743533.

'In recent times, I have utilised admissions to Richardson for respite direct from my fracture clinic, even at weekends. I have never worked anywhere with this efficiency before - it is reassuring and invaluable for the patient.'

Patient, Lowson / Starling Wards, Richardson Hospital