When I first started this project to provide potential life saving Defibrillator equipment into our community I realised that I needed to make people aware of:-
Why they were needed:
Each year hundreds of thousand cardiac arrests and over half are fatal.
What they do:
Early access could dramatically increase survival rates from 5% to nearly 70%.
Public access 24 hours a day via 999 system.
A wide network positioned throughout our community.
Provide basic CPR and Defibrillator awareness talks and training to assist funding.
The initial response, especially from the public at Woodham Village, Middridge and Greenfield, was fantastic, with over £3,000 being raised within weeks. This was swiftly followed by backing from our GAMP Area Action Partnership, GATC, Middridge Parish Council, Alisdair and Louise McConnel from the Village Pharmacy. As did the first five unit venues at Woodham Community Centre, PCP Centre, Middridge Bay Horse, Greenfield Shop and Woodham College.
This start was built on, and awareness and training in the community was used to promote and raise more funding to extend the project further.
At the start we did not have any 24 hour public access units anywhere in our Aycliffe area. We now have Woodham Community Centre, PCP, Bay Horse, Navy Club, Silverdale Place, School Aycliffe Community Centre, OakLeaf sports field, Aycliffe Village Community Centre, Simpasture Court, Neville Community Centre, St Clare’s, St Mary’s, 75 Washington Crescent.
A new unit slap bang in the middle of the Town Centre shopping precinct was fitted last week. When we add in the numerous defib units that are also now available only during venue opening times, and the nearly 600 people who have completed the awareness course, it is not a bad result so far.
We are not finished, three areas have gaps, but plans and negotiation are already well advanced in two of them. I have again worked with Newton News so that they can print in this week’s issue a local map showing the position of all units. I would like to mention particularly all the Community Centre and Residents Committees.
A personal thanks especially to Phil Clark who has supported me from the very start, and our equipment suppliers Martek Lifecare for their continued support.
Whilst Covid-19 has slowed us down, we still achieved a lot in the last year, particularly satisfying to me, is the level of commitment from Livin Housing and individuals such as Stephen Patterson and the anonymous donor at School Aycliffe, who both fully funded public units.
This community spirit is clearly shown again by the support for the latest unit now in the shopping precinct.
Landlords Daejan (Durham) Ltd who will now also maintain the defibrillator, our MP Paul Howell, the Taylor family, in memory of Daughter Seonaid Taylor-Hill, GATC Youth Committee, and residents of Newton Aycliffe, have all contributed including many friends and recipients of donations from ‘Honest John’ Hilton, who sadly passed away on 28th February 2020. These included the Rugby Club, Boxing Club, Acorn and Horndale Residents Groups, MAD Community Choir, Roger Pounder and Valerie Wright. I had decided on the location of the new Town
Centre unit simply by its need to be central and link up with the chain of existing units.
However, it was pointed out to me by Paul Thompson, of Acorn Residents, that it was the exact place where ‘Honest John’ Hilton had his original market stall.
This becomes more poignant when you understand we had already decided to recognise the value of all grass roots community support, by dedicating it with a simple message, the new Town Centre unit in recognition of John’s unique fundraising commitment to his community.
The Town Centre unit was fitted outside the Salvation Army shop on Thursday 25th February and will be registered on to the 999 Emergency call system.
With lockdown restrictions hopefully easing, I hope to be able to restart CPR and Defibrillator demonstration again soon in the Town Centre, watch Newton News for future announcements.
Our project got a mention in Parliament recently, Jim Shannon, DUP, MP, had a successful Private Members Bill first reading with the aim to make it a Law for all Public buildings, Sporting facilities and Schools to have a defibrillator (fantastic). After a prior conversation with Paul Howell MP, he mentioned us in his Motion, citing it as a great achievement but suggesting that it should not be left up to individuals to provide this vital potential lifesaving equipment.
Again a wonderful example of Newton Aycliffe leading the way! A big thanks also to the support by our dedicated NHS Ambulance Service. They are using our network of units and even deploying them early if they consider a medical situation could quickly lead to a possible cardiac arrest.
If such an occasion happens, it means a defibrillator is instantly available to give the best possible odds of recovery.
All of this is down to our community working together to move forward to which I am totally committed.
ED: See centre pages for your pull out map of defibrillator locations in Newton Aycliffe.