A potentially life-saving emergency device has been installed at a shopping centre in the west of Aberdeen, thanks to the fundraising efforts of St John Scotland and two other local charities.
The defibrillator can be used if someone suffers a cardiac arrest, where the heart suddenly stops beating, and works by delivering an electric shock to kick start it back into normal rhythm.
Every week, around 70 people in Scotland have a cardiac arrest. For every minute that someone goes without treatment, their chances of survival reduce by 10 per cent, so performing CPR and using a defibrillator within the first few minutes of collapse can make the difference between life and death.
The defibrillator been installed at Westhill Shopping Centre, by the Management Office entrance, and is available to be used 24/7.
St John Scotland worked with the local team of First Responders and Westhill Rotary to raise funds for the device, while the shopping centre's owners, MJ Mapp, covered costs for its installation and electricity supply.
Joe Mackie, chair of St John Scotland’s group of volunteers in Aberdeen and the North East, said: “When you hear the word ‘defibrillator’ you might picture a scene from Casualty with a paramedic rubbing electrical plates together. Defibrillators that you find in public places are not like that – they have been designed so that any member of the public can use them, without training needed. In a cardiac arrest, every second counts, so it’s vital that someone can step in to perform CPR, and use a defibrillator, before the ambulance arrives. We’ve been helping people learn CPR at events all over Aberdeenshire this summer, and we hope that by doing that, and working together to provide this defibrillator in Westhill, we can help save lives in the local area.”
Lesley McDonald from Westhill and Kingswells First Responders explained how to use the device in an emergency: “If you see someone who has collapsed, is unconscious and not breathing normally, they are having a cardiac arrest. First you should phone for an ambulance, then start CPR – the 999 call handler will be able to tell you how to do this if you’re not sure. They will also tell you were your nearest defibrillator is, and the security code if it’s in a locked box. You shouldn’t stop CPR, but ask someone else to fetch the defibrillator. Then you simply turn it on, and it will read aloud instructions to you. It’s impossible to hurt someone using it, as it will only give a shock when needed. But if you do use it, it can greatly increase the person’s chances of surviving.”
Les May, President of Westhill Rotary added: “Rotary is about bringing people together to serve communities. By working together to provide this defibrillator, our three charities have made a real difference to the local community. This device has the potential to save the life of anyone in Westhill – the shopping centre is in the middle of town and is used by most people in the community, so it’s an ideal location to have the defibrillator available to anyone who may need it.”