Campaign calls for ten 24/7 community defibrillators to be installed in Sudbury by end of the year
Having worked for 15 years to increase the number of publicly-accessible defibrillators around the UK, Andy Read’s efforts really hit home when he himself suffered a cardiac arrest on August 25 last year.
Thankfully, with first responders arriving at his home within minutes, the Ballingdon resident survived, after receiving CPR and a shock from a defibrillator, prior to being airlifted to hospital for treatment.
But the experience highlighted to Mr Read, who works as the head of safety for national leisure firm Places Leisure, that the number of 24/7 defibrillators in the Sudbury area was not nearly adequate for the population.
At the start of 2019, there were just two – one at the town hall and another at the health centre – serving around 13,000 people.
Since then, another set of live-saving equipment has been installed in Elizabeth Way, close to where Mr Read lives, following a community fundraising drive led by his neighbour, Linda Leggett.
He told the Free Press this joint effort is the blueprint for his campaign to see at least 10 community defibrillators available in the town by the end of this year.
“The defibrillator in Ballingdon, I hope never has to be used, but, if someone did ever need it, it’s there,” Mr Read said.
“My personal view is that people taking responsibility to help their local communities is the best route forward. I’m so privileged that the people around me have done that.
“Sudbury, with its population, is grossly under-resourced in this area. That’s what we want to change. Once there are a few more defibrillators out there, people will realise they are relatively cheap, and they can club together to get one installed near them.
“If it gets to that stage, I think the momentum will be there, and even more will pop up.”
The campaign is supported by Sudbury mayor Robert Spivey, who added: “Defibrillators are proven life savers and I would support any effort to make them widespread in the community.”
Mr Read, a former general manager at Kingfisher Leisure Centre, suggested locations such as Cornard Road, Waldingfield Road, Melford Road, Cross Street, Newton Road, Friars Meadow and The Croft, with the goal of having as many people as possible within two minutes of life-saving equipment.
Clinical research indicates that a person’s chances of survival from a cardiac arrest are strong with quick intervention, but significantly drop if it takes longer than two minutes to reach them with a defibrillator.
Patrick Peal, chief executive of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, which transported Mr Read to Basildon Hospital when he suffered his arrest, is also backing Mr Read’s campaign.
He said: "We now attend more cardiac arrests than any other type of emergency, overtaking road traffic collisions, but often, our team gets there too late to make a difference, unless a bystander has been able to perform CPR and, in the best case scenario, use a defibrillator as well.
"We call this the chain or survival and it makes a huge difference in someone’s chances of recovery.
"The rise of accessible defibrillators out there in the community is a vital part of this chain, and having more defibrillators available in and around Sudbury would be fantastic.
"However, it’s not just having access to the equipment which makes a difference. It’s having the confidence and training to use a defibrillator which will save a life.
"That’s why we’re committed to providing training from our crew to the people of East Anglia – including school children – to increase the number of people able to use these life-saving devices at the right time.
"So far, we’ve trained over 700 adults and almost 3000 school children this year with several more training events planned."
Training on how to apply CPR and how to use defibrillators is available at Kingfisher Leisure Centre.
Those interested in taking a course should email Kelly Blackburn at firstname.lastname@example.org.