Life-saving defibs donated to Edinburgh landmarks

Publication date 02 December 2019

Two men who were lucky to survive after nearly losing their lives have donated life-saving machines to two of Edinburgh’s most prominent landmarks.

A group of people on Calton Hill in Edinburgh with a defibrillator

Mike Pinkerton, 44, and 68 year old Colin Mackay both suffered a cardiac arrest – when the heart stops beating in a regular rhythm.

Now, they have raised money to provide defibrillators – the same machines which helped saved their lives – at two of the capital's attractions.

Father of two Mike collapsed in 2015 while at his local vet surgery. A quick thinking vet stepped in to perform CPR while the ambulance was on its way, and when paramedics arrived they used a defibrillator four times to shock his heart back into action.

Mike has spent the last two years fundraising for defibrillators and has so far donated five life-saving machines to the city. These have been installed in a number of venues including the Museum of Childhood and Summerhall, and now he's placed a sixth at the top of Calton Hill.

Speaking as he handed over the defibrillator to staff at arts organisation Collective, where the defibrillator has been installed, Mike said: “What better view of our beautiful capital city than from the top of Calton Hill – and where better then to install another life-saving defibrillator? The Collective really is an ideal spot.

“The St John Scotland project is all about installing as many defibrillators as possible in public places – giving someone suffering a cardiac arrest the best possible chance of survival – and I’ve tried to choose locations where most people enjoy spending time.

“I’m so lucky to still be here and to be able to do my bit for such a worthwhile cause.”

Kate Gray, Director of Collective, said: "We're delighted to receive this new defibrillator. Collective has welcomed over 300,000 visitors to its new home on Calton Hill in the past year and the popularity of the Hill continues to grow. We know defibrillators save lives and whilst we hope it never needs to be used, having this equipment in place is a welcome precautionary measure."

Two men pose with a Public Access Defibrillator

Colin Mackay is similarly keen to help increase the number of defibrillators available across the city, to give others the same chance of surviving as he did.

He was playing a game of walking football in 2017 when teammates saw him collapse on the pitch. Friend Stevie Cameron sprang into action and began CPR, which he continued for 20 minutes while the ambulance was on its way.

A trustee of the Walking Football Scotland charity, Colin has already helped three Edinburgh clubs team up to raise money for a defibrillator, which was installed at Gorgie Farm earlier this year.

Colin has now donated a further device himself, which has been installed at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens. A plaque next to the defibrillator reads: 'This defibrillator is donated in the name of Stevie Cameron by a very grateful Colin Mackay, with humble thanks for being my lifesaver'.

Colin said: “When I had my cardiac arrest a lot of the guys I was playing with just thought I had fainted. Stevie had been on a training course a few weeks before and recognised it was more than that, so he started CPR. There was no defibrillator available where we were playing so he had to carry on doing CPR for 20 minutes until the ambulance got there and the paramedics were able to help me.”

He continued: “I think it’s so important to have more defibrillators available so they are within easy reach. The Ross Bandstand is an ideal location – in summer especially the gardens are so busy.

“By doing this I’m also really keen to raise awareness of how easy defibrillators are to use – they are idiot proof! It’s all about breaking down barriers so that people know what to do and can help save someone’s life like Stevie helped save mine.”

Both the new defibrillators have been installed as part of our St John and the City project, which has been helping to provide the machines across the capital over the past two years.

Volunteer Lynn Cleal, who leads the project on behalf of St John Scotland, said: “Both Mike and Colin know how important defibrillators are, as without them, they would not have survived cardiac arrest.

“We know that every year within the Edinburgh bypass area, around 350 people have a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public place. Having easy and quick access to a defibrillator can make a big difference to their chance of survival. So we are very pleased that these two dedicated chaps have raised money to provide defibrillators at these very well used attractions."

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh Frank Ross is Patron of St John and the City. He said: "With over 130 defibrillators installed across Edinburgh to date, the success of St John Scotland’s life-saving campaign has been fantastic.

“Each device has been generously funded by people like Colin and Mike or local businesses and they have been called into action at least 19 times in emergencies. It’s welcome to see the momentum continue with these new defibrillators at the Ross Theatre and Collective Gallery.”