High-profile cardiac arrests, such as the one suffered by footballer Fabrice Muamba in 2012, have helped to underscore the importance of having suitable first aid equipment in place in case medical emergencies occur. The former Bolton Wanderers star came close to death after his heart stopped during a match. However, the presence of skilled medics and quality equipment meant that the then 23-year-old’s life was saved.
In a bid to boost safety standards in Scotland, the country’s government has announced that local communities north of the border are to benefit from an additional £100,000 of investment to increase the number of public access defibrillators on offer.
The funding will enable the Scottish Ambulance Service to buy and deploy this equipment across the nation. At present, it costs around £3,000 to purchase, fit and install one such defibrillator.
Greatly improve chances of survival
Commenting on the importance of this first aid equipment, health secretary Alex 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.”
He made his comments during a visit to Aberdeen Health Village, where he met ambulance workers and trained first responders.
Also welcoming the development, Bernard Gallacher, who established the Bernard Gallacher Defibrillator Campaign after suffering a cardiac arrest in 2013, described it as “fantastic news”.
He added: “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.”
He added that if there had not been a defibrillator on the premises, the consequences would have been tragic for his family. Describing the machines, he noted they are simple to use and can be operated by members of the public.
Safer and sustainable communities
More positive sentiments can be from Pauline Howie, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service. She remarked: “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.”
Many organisations and individuals may benefit from the increased funding. Meanwhile, when people are on the lookout for new defibrillators to install in their premises, they can head online. The process of buying the items is simple and quick.