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Cardiac arrest survivor donates life-saving defib

An Edinburgh man who survived a cardiac arrest four years ago has donated a life-saving defibrillator his local church, as part of the St John and the City project. 

Jeremy Southam was out for a regular 10 mile run near his home in July 2014 when he suddenly collapsed. Luckily a man driving passed recognised something was wrong and stopped to help. He called an ambulance, and when he described Jeremy’s condition, and was given instructions over the phone to deliver CPR.

It was seven minutes before the ambulance arrived and paramedics took over, using a defibrillator to shock Jeremy’s heart back into action.

Were it not for the actions of the passer by, Jeremy would likely not be here today. Of the 70 people who have a cardiac arrest in Scotland each week, only around one in 12 survive.

Jeremy is now passionate about helping more people learn the skill that saved his life, and raising awareness of defibrillators, to give more people the chance to survive as he did.

Yesterday, on World Restart a Heart day, he unveiled a defibrillator he has donated to St Thomas’ church on Glasgow Road in Corstorphine as part of the St John and the City project.

Jeremy said: "The defibrillator that rescued me was actually in an ambulance, but if there had been something closer to hand, that could have helped even more. I was keen to get a defibrillator in the area where I live, and the church here is such a busy road, with lots of people driving, walking or running past, there are playing fields in the back, so it seemed like the ideal place. People will notice it’s there, and it’s easy to go and get it in a situation where it’s needed.”

Jeremy Southam with Andrew Smith of the St John and the City project

The St John and the City project has so far seen more than 110 defibrillators placed across the city and surrounding areas. Since the project began in 2016, six of the defibrillators have been successfully deployed, helping save five lives.

Jeremy has also helped people learn life-saving CPR by becoming a trainer at sessions run by the project. He helped teach pupils at Carrick Knowe Primary, who learned CPR when a defibrillator was installed at the school, and also demonstrated the skill to members of the public at this year's Corstorphine Fair.

He said: “One of the things I’m exceptionally keen to do is try and teach CPR to children. They may not necessarily be able to use the skills immediately, but in other countries it’s been found that if you teach children at a young age, it’s a skill they have for life. And in perhaps ten, twenty, thirty years’ time, they could be in the situation where they see someone who’s in need of CPR, and what they learned click in, and they could help save a life.”

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