Big public response to life-saving campaign in Dereham

With some of the life saving equipment are members of the Dereham Trefoil Guild (from left) Annette Alston, Pat Goodall...

With some of the life saving equipment are members of the Dereham Trefoil Guild (from left) Annette Alston, Pat Goodall, Carol Belgrove and Nancy Briggs. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Campaigners are delighted by the public response to their efforts to raise awareness of the life-saving importance of community defibrillators after bringing their message to the streets of Dereham.

The Dereham Trefoil Guild is trying to make people aware of where automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are in the town and ensure more people are able to use them in the crucial minutes following a cardiac emergency.

On Saturday they ran a promotional stand in Nelson Place precinct.

Nancy Briggs, from the Dereham Trefoil Guild, said: 'It has been busy all morning which is great to see.

'If more people learn about this, lives will be saved.'

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Mrs Briggs said the project began in February after she watched a television programme which showed how children in Sweden are taught in school at an early age how to use a defibrillator.

She said: 'I asked people around Dereham if they knew where defibrillators are in the town and how to use one - most people had no idea.'

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A survey of venues around Dereham has so far found nine defibrillators available at different times of the day, although only one, at Toftwood Stores, is publicly accessible 24 hours a day.

The Dereham Trefoil Guild has been given a new defibrillator by Annette Alston, from Colton, whose daughter Lucie Proctor died, aged just 25, five years ago after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Mrs Alston believes her daughter may still be alive if someone had got to her with a defibrillator.

She set up Lucie's Lifesaving Legacy and, through that, has raised funds for 16 community defibrillators around Norfolk, including one for Dereham.

The guild is still to decide on where this will go and is looking at the possibility of placing it outside Dereham Library.

Mrs Alston said: 'It's vitally important that communities embrace projects like this one in Dereham so the defibrillators don't just end up being boxes on walls that nobody knows how to use.

'The response from the public in Dereham today has been fantastic and it's impressive to see so many youngsters getting involved.'

Stephen Theobald, ambulance paramedic with the East of England NHS Trust, also attended to encourage people to become volunteer community first responders.

He said: 'In cardiac arrest a person's chances of survival is reduced by 10pc for every minute that goes by.

'If someone can get to a patient before the ambulance arrives, they could make a crucial difference.'

The Dereham Trefoil Guild is planning to produce a map showing locations of all AEDs in Dereham and to give copies and training to all organisations in the town.

Mrs Briggs said trefoil guilds in other parts of Norfolk are being encouraged to run similar projects.

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