Would you know what to do if you were first on the scene when somebody had suffered a heart attack? Shaftesbury Rotary Club has arranged a session where you can learn how to use a defibrillator and how to react.
Retired Shaftesbury GP and Rotarian David Wynn-Mackenzie understands how important the defibrillator equipment, near Shaftesbury Town Hall, is. “If somebody has a collapse in the middle of the town and needs to be resuscitated, the rapid access to an electric shock can literally save their life. If you get that shock quickly you stand a good chance of making a recovery. If you don’t get it quickly, even just waiting for the ambulance to come within their standard period of time can be too long. A shock within seconds can save a life,” said David.
That’s the reason why the fundraising group purchased this equipment, which is on a shop wall adjacent to the Town Hall. “Rotary paid for the defibrillators five or six years ago from the proceeds of Gold Hill Fair, as part of a national drive. There should be more of them in public places. People are getting more used to seeing them. This is a chance for you to see what you can do with it.”
David says it’s important to have the confidence and not be frightened of the equipment. “They are absolutely foolproof. While people are rightly cautious because, if used wrongly, they could do harm, any sensible person following the instructions will open the machine and it will tell you what to do. If it’s not safe or appropriate to give an electric shock, then the machine won’t allow you to give it. If you do what it tells you to do, then you’re perfectly safe,” said David.
David says the defibrillator at the top of Gold Hill has never been used although it was once taken out of its casing but wasn’t required. “That’s the way of these things. It’ll mostly sit there for a long time. We check it and make sure it’s available for ready use.”
The defibrillator location was a well-considered choice. “We originally wanted to put it on the front of the Town Hall because it’s an obvious and publicly well-known place. We couldn’t get permission so it’s a few yards away. We thought there was a level of interest in putting it on Gold Hill, not that I want to put people off exercise, because going up and down Gold Hill is going to be good for you and you’re less likely to need a defibrillator if you do that,” said David.
The awareness session and demonstration with a paramedic from the Southwest Ambulance Trust takes place at 7pm at Shaftesbury Football Club on Wednesday, 23rd October. “We’ll have some mannequin models at the event that people can practice with. You’ll learn how to put somebody into the recovery position. Even if they have a simple faint, that will be worthwhile, so they don’t choke on their own tongue. It takes seconds to do and can also save a life,” said David.
David is hoping for a good turnout. “This is suitable for people of all ages. If you’re old enough to come out at 7pm, to listen to a session which will last about one hour, then it’s perfectly reasonable for you to learn. In Scandinavian countries it’s part of the educational system. Young people get practical experience in what to do in these circumstances.”