Thornton Rust institute now proudly displays a public access defibrillator (PAD) box on the front of the building. And on Saturday, September 13, many residents attended the coffee morning in the institute to learn more about the defibrillator (defib) and how and when it could be accessed.
Left: Ian White (right) and Dave Jones beside the PAD box outside Thornton Rust institute.
Dave Jones, the community defibrillator officer for West Yorkshire, explained that the box containing the defib could be opened by obtaining the code for the keypad from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. So, in an emergency, the first step was to ring 999 and the ambulance call handler will ask a series of questions to ascertain what was required.
It is vitally important to give the ambulance service an address to which to send a fast response car, an ambulance and (if one was available) a community first responder. As a first responder I’ve often been very grateful that a Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) fast response car has arrived soon after I have reached someone suffering from chest pains.
Once the call handler knows where the patient is they will want to know how many people are available to help. Dave emphasised that it is important that one person stays with the patient and the call handler will give advice about how to administer chest compressions. “The call handler will talk you through it,” he assured everyone and warned: “The window of opportunity when there has been a cardiac arrest is just four minutes.”
But compared to administering chest compressions a patient’s chances of survival can be increased from below five per cent to over 50 per cent if a defib is used soon after someone has collapsed. So, if another person is available to help, they will be asked to run and get the defib, following the instructions provided by the ambulance call handler.
When encouraging residents to make use of the defib Dave commented: “You can’t get it wrong – just have a go.” He said that the defib provided both spoken and visual advice on how to use it.
Dave not only explained how the defib worked but also demonstrated how to give chest compressions using a dummy. Afterwards he had time to chat with residents and answer more questions while I, as member of the Carperby and Aysgarth volunteer community responder team, watched while some used the dummy to practise chest compressions. Practising chest compressions on ‘Little Anne’.
The Carperby and Aysgarth team is short of members now and is finding it harder to provide almost 24/7 coverage in mid Wensleydale as we are willing to go beyond our four-mile radius.
Ian White organised the installation of the defib box at Thornton Rust. The boxes and defibs for Aysgarth and Thoralby have been deliverd and that for Aysgarth has been installed on the front wall of the village institute thanks to Kevin Hails and James Metcalfe.
But, even though Thoralby was the first village in the Aysgarth and District parish council area to raise the funds for this equipment it is likely to be the last to have a box installed.
This is because Thoralby village hall is a listed building. This means that permission has to be obtained to install a box on an outer wall and the Yorkshire Dales National Park planning officer has suggested it should be at the back of the building. This upset many people in the village who felt that the building was not “an attractive feature which contributes significantly to the quality of the village” and that equipment which has the potential to make the difference between life and death ought to be clearly visible. (See Aysgarth and District parish council report)
Dave, however, said that having the defib box at the back of the hall was not a problem as the ambulance call handler would give clear directions as to its location and signs could be provided. When I asked him about this later he said that a PAD box had been installed on the back of another listed building in North Yorkshire.
The box needs to be on a publicly funded building with an electricity supply as the defib must be kept warm during the winter months.
The cost of the equipment at Thoralby and at Thornton Rust was met from the funding received through the Defra environmental stewardship schemes for Thoralby Moss and Thornton Mire. Aysgarth, as well as West Burton and Preston under Scar plus two villages in Swaledale received assistance from Richmondshire District Council’s Communities Opportunities Fund.