Medical emergency inspires Hargrave community defibrillator bid
Hargrave Village Hall is now home to a defibrillator after a resident died, despite the life-saving efforts of his wife and a teenage passer-by.
Residents in the 129-household village, which is four miles from the nearest GP surgery and eight miles from West Suffolk Hospital, called for the equipment following the incident last year.
Antonia King, parish clerk, said: “With an ageing village population our vulnerability is evident and the need to be more self-reliant very apparent.”
Villagers ‘overwhelmingly’ supported the application for lottery funding to purchase the community public access defibrillator.
“The target response time for the ambulance service is seven-15mins for a life-threatening emergency and it has been well documented that these figures are rarely achieved in rural areas. Sadly, we have had first-hand experience of this, when one of our villagers suffered a fatal cardiac arrest,” said Antonia.
In January 2018, villager Doug Gidney was taken ill and collapsed on his driveway. His wife Jackie rushed to his aid, telephoning for an ambulance and starting CPR.
Jackie said: “I’d been there for a while when I heard voices and called out for help.”
Henry Upton, 18, had been dropping off a letter nearby when he heard Jackie’s cries and ran to her aid. He took over CPR, saying he acted on ‘instinct’ and copied what he had seen on television.
Jackie said: “A few minutes later the ambulance arrived, but by then it was too late. When I called an ambulance the first thing they asked is if there was a defibrillator in the village. It may have helped, we just don’t know.
“I think it’s marvellous the village now has one. If anything similar happens to anybody else, it is there.”
On Thursday, more than 30 villagers attended a defibrillator training session, organised by Community Heartbeat Trust.
“It’s good to know the defibrillator is there now and that anyone can use it. It could be a big help to someone else in the future,” said Henry.
And what does Jackie think of Henry?
“He’s such a marvellous boy,” she said.