The St John and the City defibrillator project, which has helped place more than 120 life-saving devices across the city since it began in 2016, celebrated its success with a special event in the city this week.
The project is run by St John Scotland volunteers in Edinburgh, and has helped install defibrillators everywhere from the trams to Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument to Summerhall, and dozens of other community venues across the city.
At a Civic Reception hosted this week at the City Chambers, the city celebrated the success of the project, and encouraged more local organisations to get involved to help further increase the number of defibrillators available in Edinburgh.
The project works by pairing Donors – which can be individuals, community groups, or businesses of all sizes – with Host venues across the city. Successful partnerships so far have included Charlie Miller hair salons, who donated a defibrillator to the trams, and charity the Thistle Foundation, who were supported to install a device at their Craigmillar headquarters.
The event also celebrated those who responded to cardiac arrest emergencies, to thank them for their life-saving actions. Among those attending on the night were Edinburgh dad Mike Pinkerton, who nearly lost his life when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at his local vet surgery three and a half years ago. Luckily for Mike, the vet came to his rescue, performing CPR for around 20 minutes before the ambulance arrived and paramedics shocked his heart back into action with a defibrillator.
Also thanking those who helped them in their hour of need were Paul Burns, 57, who suffered a cardiac arrest when he was playing football at Hibs training ground in 2016, and Jeremy Southam, a dad of two who collapsed while on a run in Corstorphine five years ago.
Paul was saved by the Hibs physio who stepped in to perform CPR, while a bystander stopped to help Jeremy when he realised he needed immediate help. Paul, Jeremy and Mike have all since gone on to raise money and awareness for the St John and the City project, funding 15 defibrillators between them and helping out at CPR training across the city.
Around 70 people have a cardiac arrest each week in Scotland; the region within Edinburgh city bypass sees around 350 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year.
Cardiac arrest can affect people of all ages and levels of fitness, sometimes with no prior warning or symptoms. It is most commonly caused by a problem with electrical signals in the heart, which causes it to stop pumping blood around the body, starving the brain of oxygen.
Acting quickly to save a life is vital – for every minute that passes without action, survival drops by 10%. To be most effective, a defibrillator needs to be used within the first few minutes of collapse, which is why it’s so important to have them regularly available across the city.
The defibrillators installed by St John Scotland are all easy to use, automated units which can be used by any member of the public in an emergency, with no prior training required.
As part of our drive to improve survival rates from cardiac arrest across Edinburgh and the country as a whole, our volunteers also offer free CPR training to all organisations involved in the St John and the City project, with more than 2,000 people being trained so far.
The Lord Provost of Edinburgh Frank Ross said: “This reception is our city’s way of saying 'thank you' to everyone who has supported this truly life-saving campaign. With over 100 defibrillators installed across Edinburgh to date, the success of the project has been immense! Each device has been generously funded by an individual or organisation. They have been called into action at least 18 times in emergencies, yet none of them would exist without the determination of St John and the City. I hope that we can keep the momentum going and eventually ensure every community in the Capital has a defibrillator. The devices are so simple to use and no one should think twice before using one in an emergency."
St John Scotland volunteer Lynn Cleal, who leads the St John and the City project, said: “We’re delighted that the Lord Provost and the city of Edinburgh have really got behind the St John and the City project, and are hosting this reception this week to celebrate what has been achieved so far. The cardiac arrest survivors we have worked with are living proof of how important it is to have defibrillators available across the city, which is why they have decided to raise money, and raise awareness to help Edinburgh become a city of lifesavers.