‘If defibrillator saves just one life, it will be worth it’


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A heart-attack victim could one day be saved by a quick-thinking first aider after civic leaders backed plans for a public-access defibrillator for Sidmouth.

The emergency unit, with audio and visual instructions, is set to be installed in Market Place after gaining the support of the ambulance service and the police.

Town councillor David Barratt had wanted to compile a directory of the town’s existing defibrillators but won over his colleagues for a £1,500 contribution to the new piece of kit.

“Public access defibrillators can save lives,” he said.

“It’s vital that we move on this and do something. If it saves just one life then it will be worth doing.”

His plans for a directory of the town’s 14 defibrillators fell through because variable opening hours made it unsafe – The Donkey Sanctuary’s is available 24 hours a day but ‘it’s a list of one’.

Councillor Barratt instead worked with the police and managed to secure a ‘substantial’ contribution from the Sidmouth Lions Club for a public-access defibrillator.

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It will be kept in a high-visibility weatherproof cabinet on an external wall in the town centre spot.

When applied to a patient, a sequence of voice commands and screen messages guide the user through the defibrillation process.

It will need to be checked on a weekly basis, which Cllr Barratt has offered to do himself.

Police Sergeant Andy Squires said that although the scheme to identify all of the defibrillators in the town fell through, new police technology can use officers’ radio signals to direct them to the nearest unit.

Cllr Ann Liverton worried that only having one unit would mean most emergencies occur some distance away.

But Cllr Simon Pollentine said if it proved successful, it would act as a trailblazer and the be the first of many.

And Mr Barratt added the first response should always be to call 999, but ambulances cannot always arrive within the crucial first five minutes of a heart attack.

Cllr Kelvin Dent said: “I think we need to move as soon as possible on this.”

Members voted to contribute £1,500 toward the £2,500 defibrillator.