Heart attack survivors turn lifesavers for British Heart Foundation store

Two heart attack survivors are backing a campaign to teach more people life-saving CPR.

The British Heart Foundation store at the Darwin Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury, backed by West Midlands Ambulance Service, is having a CPR day on Saturday, July 28.

Dave Williams and Eddie Jones, who have both suffered heart attacks, know the value of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and supporting people who have suffered heart problems or a
cardiac arrest.

Both are members of Copthorne Cickers (corr) United, a Shrewsbury-based support group started in 1992 to help restore confidence in those who have suffered heart problems. Most of the 1,000 members have been patients at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital’s coronary care unit.

Eddie, of Mardu near Clun, was a gym regular for 40 years and describes his heart attack as “moderate”. He was an evacuation officer with a West Midlands authority and retired in 1995, but was always heavily involved in voluntary work and had been involved in first aid most of his life.

But fairly recently he has become a community first responder, trained to attend emergency calls received by the ambulance service and provide care, including CPR if necessary, until the ambulance arrives.

He is part of an incredibly successful community scheme, called Clun Valley AED (Automated External Defibrillator) Scheme which is concerned with the buying and installing automated external defibrillators in communities and training local people how to use them.

“We have now trained 150 volunteers and raised over £23K and we have 14 AEDs outside pubs, clubs, community centres throughout the Clun Valley,” said Eddie. “The defibrillators cost about £1,000 and the enclosures about £700 but we have managed to get the cost of the enclosures reduced for the future.

“I have been a member of the British Red Cross and involved in first aid since I was a Scout of 11, so becoming a first responder was a natural progression and in a remote rural area it can be difficult for an ambulance to get to the scene of an emergency which is where the AEDs can save lives.”

Cardiac arrests and heart attacks affect an estimated 111,000 people each year in England alone. Over 75,000 people die each year in the UK from sudden cardiac arrest but with rapid treatment from a defibrillator, around 85% could be saved.

Community Paramedic Officer for Shropshire Terry Foster, of West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “Bystander CPR is incredibly important because having people on hand who know what to do is crucial.

“Specialist training in basic life support skills can and really does save lives. The earlier someone suffering from a cardiac arrest receives CPR and defibrillation, the greater the chance of survival. We teach people very simple, basic procedures – they are simple, effective – and they work.

“What we teach is how to manage a person who’s collapsed, how to do oxygen therapy and how to use a defibrillator. People normally don’t die of a cut finger or a broken leg but you will die if your heart stops and the patient left with no immediate intervention. It’s as simple as that.”

Kevin Lockwood, Manager of the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres, said: “We regard this as so important and we do have defibrillators available in our centres and our staff are trained in their use.

“I think this is a very worthwhile way for the BHF store in the Darwin Centre to celebrate the first anniversary of their opening here and I’d definitely urge anyone who can to call in and have a go at these vital lifesaving skills.”

The Clun Valley scheme, for which West Midlands Ambulance provides free advice and training, has already saved one life when Ian Owen, 50, from Bucknell, recently trained and given a defibrillator to look after, was called to the house of his sister Mandy Edwards, 47, who lived in the same road, after she collapsed having suffered a cardiac arrest. The first time he was called on to use his training, he saved his sister’s life and received an award for his efforts from the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Eddie says their training programme will be pushed out to schools later this year. “We are also trying to get sports venues and clubs to have at least one or two members who are trained first responders,” he said.

Copthorne Cickers United – a name derived from the Coronary Care Unit – is made up of ex-coronary care patients, who meets once a month to take part in various activities ranging from musical evenings to coach trips around the country.

Dave Williams, 76, an ex-HGV driver from Richmond Drive, Copthorne, is membership secretary. Like Eddie, he experienced no illness but in his 60s he was driving in London when he felt his first “twinge”. He got home but felt sick, had a pain in his arm, went to hospital and found he had unstable angina. He had about four other angina attacks before he ended up in hospital at Stoke for a by-pass operation.

It was in Copthorne he was encouraged by a nursing sister to join the Cickers, a registered charity which meets at the Lord Hill Hotel in Shrewsbury on the third Thursday of every month. It has raised about £37,000 to provide equipment for the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, including dummies used for CPR training and a new heart monitor for the coronary care unit.

Dave endorses the CPR training: “Statistics show that for every minute defibrillation is delayed with no CPR being performed, chances of survival decrease by around 10%.”

And Eddie added: “Up to 85% of pre-hospital sudden cardiac arrests could be reversed if effective bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and rapid defibrillation was achieved.”

Darren Hall, Manager of the British Heart Foundation store in the Darwin Centre, said: “We are delighted to be able to help stage the CPR day on Saturdayt because if just one life is saved through someone learning the basics, then it’s definitely worthwhile, no doubt about it.

“In fact I’d have public access defibrillators in every supermarket, library, public building and even pub along with people trained in how to use them.

“I certainly recommend that anyone who has a spare few minutes pops along to the Darwin Centre and watches a demonstration and learns how to give basic CPR. Imagine how good you’d feel if you saved someone’s life?”

www.clunvalleyaeds.co.uk Copthorne Cickers United can be found on Facebook.

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