Edinburgh’s Craigmillar area is making a push to become a community of life savers, following the tragic death from cardiac arrest of a local man earlier this year.
James Stuart had become unwell when visiting the Thistle Foundation's Centre of Wellbeing in Craigmillar in May this year. Recognising his symptoms, staff acted quickly to help him and called an ambulance and located their in-house defibrillator. Sadly, paramedics were unable to save him, and he passed away aged just 54.
In the months before James' death, staff at the centre had been working with the Save a Life for Scotland campaign to become CPR ready. James’ death raised awareness of cardiac arrest among the community, and the need to be able to act quickly, as the Thistle Centre staff did. The chances of surviving decrease with every minute that passes, and current statistics show that while around 70 people suffer a cardiac arrest in Scotland each week, only around one in 12 will survive.
Driven by Connecting Craigmillar, part of Inspiring Scotland’s Link Up programme, the community are now making a push to equip themselves with the skills to act in an emergency.
St John Scotland volunteers helped more than 320 pupils and staff at the local Castleview Primary School learn CPR this week, while pupils were tasked with creating a poster to help spread the CPR message.
Today, the week's activities culminated with the unveiling of a new Public Access Defibrillator at the Centre of Wellbeing, where James Stuart was a regular visitor.
The defibrillator has been donated by the St John and the City project, which is helping to install the life-saving devices across the city. More than 110 defibrillators have been placed across Edinburgh and the surrounding areas since 2016, with nine of the devices having been used so far to treat people in an emergency.
The project is run by volunteer Lynn Cleal. She said: “We’ve seen already from our work in the city that defibrillators can – and do – save lives. We’re delighted to be able to provide this defibrillator in Craigmillar, to help protect everyone in the community."
Dani Waddell, Co-ordinator of Connecting Craigmillar, knew James Stuart personally and was with him at the time he died. She says she’s proud to see the whole community getting behind the push: “James was a very well-known and well-liked figure in Craigmillar, and everyone was shocked when he passed away so suddenly. We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to do this work to get as many people as possible trained in CPR, and to put a defibrillator at the Centre of Wellbeing. The Centre is very well used in the area so it’s a great place to have it available for the public to use.”
The Save a Life for Scotland campaign aims to teach 500,000 Scots CPR to save an extra 1,000 lives by 2020. Director Lisa MacInnes said “We have been working with the Craigmillar community since the start of the year and have been inspired by their desire to learn how to become CPR ready. As a result, James received the best of care when he needed it most and those who knew and cared for him did everything they could at the most critical of times. Losing James hit everyone hard. It is fantastic to see the whole community in Craigmillar coming together to learn this life-saving technique and now have access to a defibrillator at any time.”
Minister for Community Safety, Ash Denham, who is also Craigmillar’s constituency MSP, attended the event today. Ms Denham said: “I am delighted to see this vital piece of equipment installed in Craigmillar and it is inspiring to see the community working together to honour the memory of James. Cardiac arrest affects people of all ages and can strike at any time, starting CPR and having immediate access to this easy to use defibrillator will hopefully make a difference in the event of someone’s heart stopping. By turning such a sad tragedy into a positive legacy the local community have created a lasting tribute to James’ memory.”