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Norfolk MP warns of serious risk that public-use defibrillators in region don’t work

PUBLISHED: 11:51 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:35 05 January 2018

Norman Lamb in Parliament. Picture: Norman Lamb's office

Norman Lamb in Parliament. Picture: Norman Lamb's office

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A Norfolk MP has warned of the serious risk that defibrillators in the region are not working because they are not being maintained properly.

Automated External Defibrillators (AED), used in cases of cardiac arrest, are a vital provision in life-threatening emergencies, particularly for rural communities which may have poor access to emergency services.

Though the East of England Ambulance Service lists 1,281 AEDs in the region, many may not work as there is no legal requirement or public provision to service them, according to the Resuscitation Council (UK).

Many are gifted to communities, leading to disputes between councils when maintenance becomes necessary.

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, said: “There is a real risk that when someone is having a cardiac arrest the nearest defibrillator doesn’t work. We need to ensure that every public-use defibrillator is working properly and is maintained. People’s lives are at stake here.”

He has written to the Department of Health and the ambulance service to highlight the issue.

Jayne Biggs, founder of the Heart 2 Heart charity which tracks AEDs in the Norfolk area, said: “Public-use defibrillators are established in local communities with good intention but are often not maintained due to a lack of communication as to who is responsible for them.

“Other life-saving equipment such as fire extinguishers are checked systematically. The same should be true of public-access defibrillators.”

The call for action comes a month after questions were asked following the death of a man in the Fens.

Student Ryan Pedley rushed to help the man who had fallen into a hedge, in Whittlesey Road, Benwick.

He fetched the defibrillator from the village school and it was ready to use when it was discovered it was not working because of a low battery. They may never know whether that defibrillator could have saved the man’s life.

A new national system is due to become available in the summer that will not only map the location of every defibrillator in the UK, but also send AED guardians regular notifications to check its status.

Details of your nearest defibrillator can be found at www.eastamb.nhs.uk/your-service/campaigns/their-life-your-hands.htm

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