Falkirk MSP backs life-saving machines

Eddie Keenan, a  fulltime leisure attendant at Grangemouth Sports Complex, shows how easy it is to use a defibrillator
Eddie Keenan, a fulltime leisure attendant at Grangemouth Sports Complex, shows how easy it is to use a defibrillator

Lives could be saved by making an easy-to use piece of equipment more widely available in communities. Experts believe there should be one available in every public place where people gather.

Last year over 1500 Scots died after a cardiac arrest outwith hospital.

But the simple-to-operate apparatus could reduce that figure dramatically.

Automated External Defibrillators (AED) are small, portable, easy-to-use devices which deliver an electric shock to the chest and can restore a person’s heart to a normal rhythm after cardiac arrest.

Many people are alive today thanks to an AED being close at hand when they were suddenly taken ill.

Across the country more and more are being placed in workplaces, shopping centres, sports centres and community venues. Many of these have been provided after public fundraising campaigns.

Defibrillators are a common sight in Europe and there is a belief that more lives could be saved in this country if. like fire extinguishers, they were a standard piece of equipment in every public building.

Last month, the Scottish Government announced that life-saving defibrillators are to be installed in every Scottish NHS dental practice in a bid to save more people who have a heart attack in the community.

The £1 million scheme aims to reduce the number of Scots who die following a cardiac arrest by adding almost 1000 more AEDs to the supply of those in public places.

Currently, only five per cent of people having a heart attack outwith hospital survive, and every minute of delay cuts their chance of survival by 10 per cent.

Making the announcement, Michael Matheson, Falkirk West MSP and Minister for Public Health, said: “Every second counts when someone’s heart goes into cardiac arrest and having access to a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death.

“As these machines are becoming easier to use, it is only right that the public has more access to their life-saving potential in any public place. By giving them this equipment, we are providing 1000 more chances to save a life.”

The machines will be mapped on to the Scottish Ambulance Service control system to enable 999 call handlers to direct the public to the nearest dental practice while an ambulance is on its way.

Marjory Burns, director of British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “When someone has a cardiac arrest their chances of survival decrease with every passing minute.

“That’s why it’s vital that people know what to do in the event of a cardiac arrest. This includes calling 999 immediately, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and having access to a defibrillator as soon as possible. The more people who are trained in what to do in the event of a cardiac arrest, the more lives we can save in the future.”

While cardiac arrests can happen at any time, they can be brought on by exertion and many sports centres have AEDs as standard equipment.

Neil Brown, general manager of Falkirk Community Trust said there are defibrillators within its facilities at Bo’ness Recreation Centre and Grangemouth Sports Complex. Another at Grangemouth Stadium is the property of the Scottish Ambulance Service but can be used by trust staff.