Life-saving defibrillators are being hunted down across Wigan as paramedic chiefs launch their second annual Shoctober.
The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is asking people to #FindTheDefib and tweet selfies in order to help find the estimated thousands of life-saving machines that have been bought with good intentions but aren’t registered with the NHS trust.
There has been an encouraging proliferation of defibs across the borough in recent years, particularly at schools and sport venues, sometimes prompted by emergencies where casualties could have benefitted from one.
It is essential for ambulance services to be aware of the locations of all public defibrillators (AEDs) in their area in order for emergency medical dispatchers to direct 999 callers to them in the event of a nearby cardiac arrest.
An arrest occurs when person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and to their brain. Without intervention, the patient will die within minutes.
AEDs can “shock” an arrested heart into restarting and if this is done in the first few minutes, patients have a 60 to 70 per cent chance of a full recovery.
Last year during Shoctober, NWAS received almost 6,000 tweets from across the region identifying the locations of 290 defibrillators hitherto unknown to it.
NWAS community engagement manager Andrew Redgrave said: “The use of public defibrillators can mean the difference between life and death for a patient in cardiac arrest. They allow everyday members of the public can become lifesavers by delivering the all-important shock before we’ve arrived. Even just two or three minutes earlier can make a huge difference.
“We know that many people raise funds in their local area to have these installed but what they often do is forget to tell us they’ve done so. This means that we could get a call for a suspected cardiac arrest where this vital piece of kit is available and we can’t tell the caller to go and get it.”
AEDs are easy to use, easy to carry and won’t deliver a shock unless required. No training is needed to use one. Their location is sometimes be marked with a sign showing a white heart on a green background, or they may just be mounted on a wall.
Anyone seeing one is asked to take a selfie with it and either tweet the photo via @NWambulance using the hashtag #findthedefib, giving as many details as possible regarding its location, send the photo via NWAS’s Facebook page or email email@example.com.