Campaign sets ambitious target of 21 defibrillators in Sudbury by end of 2021 despite coronavirus pandemic setback
An ongoing campaign to ensure every Sudbury resident is within two minutes of a defibrillator has maintained its ambitious end-of-year target, despite progress stalling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Help’r Defibrillator Project, which has been backed by Sudbury Town Council and various community groups, fell short of its target of having 20 devices in place around the town by the end of 2020, following a successful start to the scheme in 2019.
Campaign co-ordinator Andy Read attributed the difficulties to the limits placed on fundraising by the outbreak, but confirmed the goal remains to have 21 defibrillators either installed or committed to before the end of 2021.
Ballingdon resident Mr Read, who survived a cardiac arrest in 2018 thanks to quick intervention with a defibrillator, suggested that, because of Covid-19, this life-saving equipment is needed more than ever, to help reduce pressure on the health service.
“Basically, it stopped when Covid kicked in,” he told the Free Press. “It’s a shame because the defibrillators will help take the stress and strain off the NHS.
“The mission is still on. There are still things happening, but it’s not as much as we had hoped. We need to try to get everybody in the town within two minutes of a defibrillator, so they can be used within four minutes.
“Currently, I’d estimate that at least 75 per cent of residential properties in Sudbury are not within two minutes of a defibrillator.
“Long Melford has managed to do a lot of installations, so if we can build up a head of steam like Long Melford, that would be amazing.
“I think Covid has given the campaign an added element. Once the vaccine starts to get rolled out and people have more comfort and confidence, there will be a realisation that this could genuinely help the NHS.
“Once people have got that reassurance again, there will hopefully more defibrillators around, so the NHS is not having to give first aid care, but rather they can be the second aid.”
In Sudbury, 24/7 community defibrillators are currently up and running at the town hall, health centre and fire station, as well as sites such as Woodhall Primary School, St John’s Church, Elizabeth Way and Sudbury Scouts Hut.
Mr Read explained that, once the devices are in place, the next step will be to concentrate on educating people how to properly use them in the event of an emergency.
The campaign has previously worked with Kingfisher Leisure Centre to hold training sessions, but is now looking at ways people can receive that training online.
“It’s very clear and very straightforward how to use a defibrillator,” added Mr Read. “I’ve shared with a number of people training videos that the British Heart Foundation has put out.
“People won’t be able to participate in training as they’ve done in the past, because of what we’ve learned from Covid. I think a lot of training will probably become virtual now.”
For more information, go online to www.bhf.org.uk.