The yellow boxes affixed to buildings and other places, such as in redundant telephone boxes, are now a familiar sight in our towns and villages, and most people know that they contain defibrillators, but how many of us would know how to use one of these devices or would have the courage to face up to a situation in which one was urgently needed? It was to overcome this lack of knowledge and hesitancy that the Bakewell and District Probus Club devoted one of its meetings to a training session held by one of its members, John Gibson, assisted by his wife Jan, both of whom had been anaesthetists in their working lives.
John opened their presentation by quoting a number of sobering facts. A person experiencing a cardiac arrest when not in a hospital has a less than ten percent chance of surviving it if not treated promptly. And, of this number, 80% of incidents occur in the victim’s home, with only 20% in public places. Thus, it is advisable for all of us to be aware of the location of defibrillators, particularly those near to our homes because the use of this equipment can hugely increase the victim’s chances of survival. In addition, speed is of the essence – if deployed within the first minute a defibrillator can result in a 90% survival rate, but every minute’s delay thereafter will reduce this figure by 10%.
Clearly, in most situations, vital time would be lost before defibrillation could be started. The first course of action is to call 999 (or 112) for professional emergency help, with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) administered to the victim immediately, and continuously, until help arrives. With the aid of artificial dummies, the speaker demonstrated how to carry out CPR and gave individual ‘hands-on’ training to each member of his audience. He also recommended the on-line guidance to be found at https://www. bhf.org.uk/revivr
In order to explain, in detail, the procedure for using a defibrillator John handed over to Jan who had brought to the meeting a couple of the devices. As she pointed out, no medical training is needed for their use; only an ability to follow the simple step-by-step instructions given over the phone by the (999) emergency operator and, once deployed, within the equipment itself.
This was an extremely interesting and helpful meeting which left the audience with much useful knowledge of how to cope in an emergency of this type.
Details of the Bakewell and District Probus Club, including reports of earlier meetings, can be found on its website at www.bakewell probus.org