Villagers learn to be heart attack heroes

Instructors David Prior , centre, and Tony France  show Badwell Ash  resident Carissa Hosking h how and when to use the new debfibrilator
Instructors David Prior , centre, and Tony France show Badwell Ash resident Carissa Hosking h how and when to use the new debfibrilator
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Should you have a cardiac arrest in villages around Woolpit and Elmswell, there is a good chance that someone nearby will know how to save your life.

As more villages have gained defibrillators thanks to parish councils, the Co-op and East of England Ambulance Service, the Woolpit, Elmswell, Norton and Tostock (WENT) First Responder volunteers are training villagers and youth organisations to use them.

WENT organiser Tony France said: “ We’re trying very hard to get a nucleus of people in each village who can respond instantly – somebody can go and get the defib while somebody starts CPR as soon as the person hits the ground. That greatly increases their chance of survival.

“When you’re in a rural area where an ambulance may take some time to get to you, it’s someone close and local who can start the process.”

At a basic level WENT gives defib appreciation talks to parish councils thinking of funding one. Once a village is getting one, they go back and give a British Heart Foundation Heartstart course to anyone who wants to come along.

The response is usually good. Tony said that in Bardwell last year they taught 32 villages, which was five per cent of the population.

At Drinkstone they taught 17 villagers, recruited three First responders and are returning to train the youth club.

Many villages with defibs in shops, libraries and halls are now raising cash to install keycode boxes to turn them into Community Public Access Defibs which are accessible 24 hours a day and registered with ambulance control.