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‘Friends’ again at the heart of the Frome community

Friends of Frome Hospital LR Project Leader Derek Trick Dr John Moxon & Chairman Peter Smith Unveiling the Friends of Frome Hospital Community Defibrillator Project

Friends of Frome Hospital LR Project Leader Derek Trick Dr John Moxon & Chairman Peter Smith Unveiling the Friends of Frome Hospital Community Defibrillator Project

The Friends of Frome Hospital have launched, and will lead, a radical new community-wide initiative that will see a network of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) installed at strategic locations around the town, to be available for public use 24/7.

An AED is a simple to use, portable piece of electronic apparatus which can be used to resuscitate the heartbeat in a life-threatening cardiac arrest situation.

Up to 12 sites have been identified in high-footfall and residential areas so as anyone, at any time of the day or night, can gain instant access to an AED in those vital minutes following a heart attack.

The units will have a highly visible presence mounted on the external wall at an easy-to-access building frontage. It is hoped that the first five units will be installed by mid-June, at The Cheese & Grain, The Key Centre, Sainsbury’s, Rossetti House and The Memorial Theatre.

On-going negotiations are currently taking place with other site owners around the town and units could be installed as early as July. In a third phase of the scheme it is hoped to place an AED unit in each of the villages surrounding Frome.

The scheme is a development of an idea by Dr John Moxon, who with Chairman of the Trustees Peter Smith and Derek Trick, form the Friends Project Team.

On launching the Frome Community Defibrillator Scheme, project leader Derek Trick said,                                                                                                                   “For some time there has been a national call to make lifesaving defibrillators more widely available, and it had been mooted by various groups here in Frome. It was also an ideal of the Friends as well, so it was decided to synchronise the ambitions of the Town Council and various groups in the town, and take the lead role in making it happen here in Frome.

“The scheme that will be introduced has been advised by the South Western Ambulance Service and will be managed by the Arrhythmia Alliance Charity (AAC). AAC already have over 400 units installed throughout the UK.

“The AED units are housed in a temperature-controlled cabinet with access controlled by the 999 emergency services. In an emergency the caller will be directed to their nearest AED unit and given a three digit code to release the ready-charged, ready to use defibrillator. Once the unit is with the patient, the user-friendly Heartsine Samaritan defibrillator will have easy-to-understand visual instructions and voice prompts, along with CPR chest pumping advice to administer until paramedics arrive on the scene. The defibrillator cannot be used incorrectly, as it will only deliver a shock to the patient only if it detects it necessary.

“The public need not have any concerns about using an AED as it is the Friends’ intention, in conjunction with the SW Ambulance Service, to hold public awareness sessions to ensure people have some basic appreciation of the system.

“It is a chilling fact that in the UK sudden cardiac arrest accounts for around 100,000 deaths each year. Of these, 60,000 occur out of hospital, about 45% being treated by the emergency services. This is the reasoning behind the initiative here in Frome and we hope to reduce that risk as far as possible by making available the latest high-technology equipment across the community.”

The Friends hope that the various site owners and community will be able to come together to help offset the high cost of the campaign, and that the public will be able to support any fundraising efforts for it. Donations will be ring-fenced for the Defibrillator Fund which will be used to fund new defibrillators and any other on-going costs.  This can be made to any member of the project team, or to Friends of Frome Hospital treasurer, Owen Hillier, Medlock, Frome Road, Nunney, BA11 4AG.