Dear Sir,

It is wonderful to see that our town has so many defibrillators available which could potentially save many lives if the emergency services operators were better informed.

An 80 year old relative of mine, who has several health issues, had a fall causing a head injury and loss of blood. His breathing was poor and the operator advised me to “run” to get the defibrillator from Woodham Community Centre as a precaution.

I had to leave him with my wonderful next door neighbour who had heard the crash and come to see if I needed help. On getting to the unit with the code I tried to enter it. I had been given a code ending in X. There is no X on the unit. I tried the rest of the code without the X to no avail so had to return home without it.

Luckily we did not need the unit but had it been a cardiac arrest then I would not have been able to resuscitate.

My relative continues his recovery in a community hospital.

These units are wonderful but only if the emergency services operators have the right information to give to those needing to access them.

Thank you

Lyn Appleby

Response from Mr Sutton-Lloyd

Firstly anyone who has any problems like this with any 24 hour defibrillator unit please inform the unit location owners immediately, or if not sure who to contact, they could telephone or email me.

This illustrates what I said in last week’s issue of trying to have a defib unit on hand as soon as possible.

When we install any new 24 hour public access unit we must register it with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS). All details of the full location, equipment specification, contacts and the access code are sent in. Every month after this we have to complete and return to NEAS, a form confirming location, current access code, and that all equipment (box and unit) has been checked at least once a week (we check ours at Woodham nearly every day).

Checking with NEAS, they have had some teething problems in the last few months with a new record system. For some reason a wrong code has been given. I have asked them to investigate. As a further double check I am checking with all the key holders of the 24 hour units in our area and will verify that these are all up to date on the NEAS system.

Just before Christmas I had a preliminary meeting with the NEAS Executive Board and we agreed to talk further, in more detail, about some of the logistic problems that the current project is experiencing.

We appreciate that we have been informed about this incident so that we can look into it further. I will keep you advised on progress.

Reviewing this incident has also highlighted that although the individual units inside the defibrillator boxes have contact details attached, the outside of each box only shows basic details of connecting to the ambulance service. I will ask all unit owners if they would be prepared to attach some sort of contact information notice to the outside of their individual boxes.

Can I also point out that we have two more free CPR and Defibrillator Awareness sessions that have spaces available.

St. Mary’s Church – Mon 27th Jan, 12.30pm to 2.30pm

St. Mary’s Church – Sat 1st Feb, 10.30am to 12.30pm

David Sutton-Lloyd

01325 316144 –