From old red phone box to lifesaving equipment

LIFE SAVER: Marking the official launch of the new defibrillator box in Southwold are (left to right

LIFE SAVER: Marking the official launch of the new defibrillator box in Southwold are (left to right), Trevor Hammond, of the East of England Ambulance Service; Christian Bone, of the East of England Co-op; and the town's mayor Simon Tobin.picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The rise of mobile phones may have accelerated their decline, but an innovative scheme in Southwold has given one old red telephone box a new lease of life.

A small crowd gathered for the launch of the town's new lifesaving phone box – which houses a defibrillator that can provide emergency first aid to someone who has suffered a heart attack.

The traditional red box, which has replaced a disused aluminium telephone kiosk on the corner of High Street and Victoria Street, cost £4,000 to purchase and set up.

The funding for the project came from the town council and local residents, businesses and organisations, and the defibrillator, worth a further £1,000, was donated by the East of England Cooperative Society.

Southwold mayor Simon Tobin performed the official opening ceremony and gave a short speech before smashing a bottle of wine on the new box.

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The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) also gave a demonstration of the equipment.

Mr Tobin said: 'I'm absolutely delighted and want to thank so many people for a massive amount of effort involved in getting this project put in place. We naturally hope that the defibrillator won't need to be used but it is there for an emergency situation.'

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The East of England Co-op is working in partnership with the EEAS to supply 100 defibrillators to communities across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex by December.

Christian Bone, head of member and community services at the East of England Co-op, said administering CPR or using a defibrillator within the first four minutes of a suspected cardiac arrest significantly increased the patient's chance of survival.

'People shouldn't be intimidated by this equipment,' he said. 'It is safe and simple to use and you can't do any damage. You can only make things better.'

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