News campaign helps to increase the number of life-saving devices

OUR defibrillator campaign helped to raise awareness about the life-saving devices.

Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 6:30 am
Two defibrillators have been installed in Rowlands Castle following a massive community effort. Pictured is: (l-r) Lisa Walker, clerk at Rowlands Castle Parish Council, Paul Winnicott, who owns the wall where the defibrillator is located and also director of R J Winnicott Ltd and Rowlands Home Hardware and Gill Whatley, admin assistant at Rowlands Castle Parish Council. Picture: Sarah Standing (151697-6827)

And over the course of six months, the number of defibrillators significantly went up across Portsmouth and south east Hampshire.

The Heartbeat campaign, which The News launched last July, is another great example of how local newspapers serve their communities and help to improve them.

The campaign was backed by health professionals, people whose lives had been saved by the devices, and local MPs, Penny Mordaunt and Caroline Dinenage.

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Last summer there were around 70 of the devices across Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant and Waterlooville.

By the beginning of this year that number had gone up, with 20 more added to the list.

The key was about getting the devices installed in public places where lots of people gather.

Organisations fundraised to buy the devices, while others applied for grants.

The devices were installed at a variety of important locations, including Fareham Town Football Club, The Rainbow Pub in Waterlooville, Emsworth Community Centre, and Gosport Ferry Terminal. The devices can be a life-saver for anyone who goes into cardiac arrest – where the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.

The chances of survival could be less than five per cent.

But a defibrillator – which shocks the heart back into action – could increase the chances of survival by as much as 50 per cent.

One of the most agonising stories during the campaign was that of Sarah Morgan. The 17-year-old Havant student collapsed on a bus on her way home from shopping.

Despite the desperate attempts of the bus driver, Sarah could not be revived and her parents had to make the agonising decision a week later to switch off her life-support machine.

But a defibrillator – which shocks the heart back into action – could have saved her life.

Her parents Anna and Alan Morgan helped to raise thousands of pounds to get the devices installed at Havant and Chichester bus stations, Portsmouth bus depot and Tesco Extra in Havant.

David Gallagher, a spokesman for South Central Ambulance Service, said: ‘We know that public access defibrillators help save more lives of those people who have suffered a cardiac arrest.

‘That’s why it’s so important for us to have the support of The News and its Heartbeat campaign; not only to make people more aware of this lifesaving technology.’