Rory Stewart MP dropped in to Appleby’s Rampkin House last week for a photograph with residents and their defibrillator, to raise awareness of the importance of public defibrillators (AEDs) as part of the North West Ambulance Trust’s (NWAS) ‘Shoctober’ campaign.

AEDs are small machines which can ‘shock’ a person’s heart into restarting and if this can be done in the vital first few minutes, patients have a 60-70 per cent chance of making a full recovery. They are easy to operate, and no clinical training is required to be able to use the machine. Located inside brightly colored cPAD (community Public Access Defibrillator) boxes, AEDs are accessed by calling 999 or 112 for the ambulance service – Ambulance Control will give the caller a code to unlock the box, and stay on the line to support the caller until an ambulance arrives.

The campaign will run throughout October and aims to remind those who purchase and install AEDs to make the Trust aware so that they can add it to their database. It is estimated that there are thousands of these life-saving portable machines in the North West which NWAS don’t know about, so if someone calls 999 in the event of a cardiac arrest, the Trust can’t direct them to the nearest cPAD box. NWAS are therefore asking people to send in ‘selfies’ and pictures of defibrillators via Facebook and Twitter – using the hashtag #findthedefib – and giving details of the location. Members of the public can also support by following and retweeting @NWambulance, sharing posts from the NWAS Facebook page, or emailing [email protected] with information relating to the location of defibrillators they have seen.

Following his visit Rory said: “In an area as rural as our own, defibrillators have become an absolutely essential means of providing rapid response and support to those in need of emergency medical care. Even with the best will in the world, emergency services are not always able to respond within eight minutes, so the more awareness we can raise about defibrillators, the safer our towns and villages become. And I am delighted to support this important campaign.”

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