Shoppers suffering a heart attack in Downham will now be able to get help sooner thanks to a life-saving device which has been installed in the town centre.
Downham Lions have been working hard over the last year to raise £2,000 to buy the town’s first publicly accessible defibrillator – which has been placed in a secure cabinet in the Castle Hotel car park.
A person’s chance of survival goes down by 10 per cent for every minute they are without CPR or defibrillation.
A defibrillator delivers an electric shock to the heart during these episodes.
Andrea Etheridge, vice president of the Downham Lions, said: “We hope it doesn’t have to be used but if it does, it will save lives.
“Being right in the centre of town it is in an ideal location and one of the things the East of England Ambulance service representative suggested is that it should be in close proximity to a supermarket, which is often a location where incidents occur.
“We think it is a good thing for the town as it is so accessible and readily available.”
The security cabinet has a keypad lock which is held by the ambulance service and that number will be given out when a caller dials 999.
The defibrillator is used to save precious minutes before the ambulance crew arrive and it can be used by anybody as it has talking instructions.
As soon as the “Start” button is pressed, a voice explains exactly what to do step-by-step.
Robbie Bywater, president of the Lions club, said: “We would like to thank Howard and Helen Fradley, the proprietors of the hotel, for hosting this vital piece of equipment and also Neil Whicker, the electrician who kindly installed it without charge.
“It’s thanks to the generosity of the townspeople of Downham that we are able to provide this life-saving equipment.
“We hope to organise a fundraising event each year specifically for the ongoing costs of the defibrillator and it is hoped that once again the general public will support this worthwhile scheme with their generosity.”
The town’s other defibrillator is based in Downham Leisure Centre and this was used in March to save the life of policeman Richard Allan.
The 52-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest after a workout at the centre but was saved by operations manager Louise Biggs and duty officer Jon Bunting.