Defibrillator will save lives in Falkirk, 24 hours a day

Partnership in action...for Tom Clements, Gordon Smith, Wine Library owner Angela Brown, staff member Kate Muir and Alex Fleming.  (Pic: Michael Gillen)
Partnership in action...for Tom Clements, Gordon Smith, Wine Library owner Angela Brown, staff member Kate Muir and Alex Fleming. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

When you’re getting ready for a big night out, not coming home safely probably never crosses your mind.

Thankfully, in Falkirk, there’s a team of people whose sole purpose is to ensure that revellers get home, safe and sound.

Life-saving equipment...now in place at the Wine Library in Falkirk to help assist with night-time emergencies. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Life-saving equipment...now in place at the Wine Library in Falkirk to help assist with night-time emergencies. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

And the partners, led by the Falkirk BID team, have now joined forces to add another life-saving piece of equipment to their already impressive arsenal.

Specialized Security, which operates the town’s very successful taxi marshall scheme every weekend and the Friends of Forth Valley First Responders, which supports the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) locally, have sponsored an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Located in an external unit at the Wine Library, it will be accessible 24-hours a day should someone suffer a cardiac arrest.

While there are already defibrillators in the town for shoppers – in Asda and the Howgate Centre – they are not accessible 24 hours.

The Safe Base partners felt it was imperative to ensure the night-time businesses – which are vital to the town’s economy – were also covered.

So they joined forces to buy the AED, which is now in situ and ready to deal with night-time emergencies.

Alex Fleming, Falkirk BID manager, said: “Safe Base is a long-standing, best practice partnership.

“It was set up in 2008 with Specialized Security’s taxi marshalls forming part of the initial BID vote.

“We’d been looking at ways of how to evolve and add to the services the Safe Base partners provide.

“You never know when someone is going to have a cardiac arrest.

“So the partners felt an AED unit, accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, would be beneficial.

“The Falkirk BID team is custodian – we’ll ensure it is regularly inspected and maintained so it’s fully operational at all times.”

Gordon Smith, the area service manger for the SAS in Forth Valley is also chairman of the Friends group.

And the group was more than happy to jointly sponsor the defibrillator, along with Specialized Security.

Explaining how the unit works, Gordon said: “Should someone have a cardiac arrest, Specialized Security’s taxi marshalls or team of first aiders could be directed to the AED by ambulance control.

“Likewise, a member of the public could also use it.

“The AED is automated so anyone can use it, even if they’ve had no training.

“Ambulance control hold the code for the unit and the person would be directed, over the phone, on how to access the AED which would then be used to deliver basic life support until an ambulance arrives.

“It delivers a pulse of energy, effectively shocking the heart back into a rhythm and helping to keep the person alive.”

For Specialized Security director Tom Clements, sponsoring the unit is a way of giving back.

He explained: “We’ve provided the taxi marshalls, and the first aiders when Safe Base is operational – during special events, bank holidays and in the run-up to Christmas – for more than ten years now.

“We also provide crowd management services for Falkirk Council and Falkirk Community Trust.

“So the town is very important to us.

“It’s good to give back, both through employment and sponsorship, to a town that as a company we have benefited from.

“There’s a vibrant night-time economy in Falkirk so having this unit available, should someone need it, could be crucial.

“For every minute that someone with a cardiac arrest is not treated, their chances of survival reduce by 10 per cent so treating someone quickly is vital.”

Gareth Brown, a Falkirk BID street ambassador, knows firsthand how useful the unit could be.

Last year, he helped to keep a man alive in the town’s High Street until the ambulance crew arrived.

And his actions resulted in a letter from the SAS, praising Gareth for saving the man’s life.

Gareth said: “I delivered CPR until the crew arrived, at which point the man went into cardiac arrest.

“The paramedic said, had it not been for my actions, he may have gone into cardiac arrest sooner – with a less positive outcome.

“It was nice to receive a letter of thanks but it’s just part of the job – thankfully not all the time though!

“I’m sure having an AED on hand, 24 hours a day, will help save lives in future.”

Counting the costs of Safe Base

Founded in 2008, the Safe Base in Falkirk operates at the weekends on key local dates.

The partnership is headed up by Falkirk Delivers but also includes Specialized Security, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Police Scotland, Signpost Recovery, Street Pastors Falkirk, CCTV and British Transport Police.

In the eight day Safe Base operation during the 2017 festive celebrations, the partnership averted 16 possible call outs.

They were instead dealt with in the town’s Safe Base, situated in the community education building in Park Street.

Police Scotland estimated that to accompany an injured party to A&E takes four hours per incident with two officers required to be present.

So the saving to Police Scotland during the eight day festive period alone was around £7,168.

The 16 averted calls to A&E also saved the ambulance service £4,579.20, based on the national average figure of £286.20 per call.

And based on A&E treatments being £153 per attendance, Safe Base resulted in £2,448 of savings for the NHS.

Gordon Smith, the Scottish Ambulance Service’s Forth Valley area service manager, said: “Safe Base is there to help reduce the demands on the emergency services – that is its sole purpose.

“It has resulted in a reduction in the number of calls to the ambulance service and police.

“It has also reduced A&E attendances which helps our NHS colleagues too.”

BID manager Alex Fleming added: “Our impact report for the 2017/18 festive period showed Safe Base saved emergency services an average of £2,440 per night. I think those figures speak to how successful the partnership has been.”