South Walsham student’s amazing lifesaving crusade

Michael Cooper and Louise Rout with defibrillator

Michael Cooper and Louise Rout with defibrillator - Credit: Archant

It would be an appropriate way to sum up Michael Cooper's achievements to say that from tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow.

For it was while doing a first aid course at South Walsham's Fairhaven woodland and water garden, famed for its 950-year-old King oak, that the seeds of his passion for lifesaving were sown.

Michael, who began working at the garden at the age of 14 and has just finished an apprenticeship in business administration there, immediately decided to become a community first responder, rushing to local medical emergencies ahead of ambulance crews.

And he then turned his attention to the welfare of the garden's many elderly visitors by raising funds for a defibrillator to be used by staff in the case of someone suffering cardiac arrest.

Not content to stop there, Michael, 20, of School Road, South Walsham, is now raising funds for two community public access defibrillators (Cpads) to be positioned at other strategic locations in the village.

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After taking time off for travelling in the Far East and Australia, the former Acle High School pupil will be returning in September to start a course at City College Norwich to become a paramedic.

Michael said: 'I have always been interested in the 999 services. An ambulance officer led the first aid course I was on and he mentioned community first responders.'

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Since becoming one 10 months ago, he has been to more than 20 incidents, many concerning people with chest pains, administering oxygen where necessary ahead of the ambulance crew's arrival.

He collected £150 for the defibrillator from customers in the Fairhaven tearoom with British Heart Foundation's Norwich branch and national organisation providing the bulk of the money.

The two defibrillators for the village will cost a total of £3800 and he has been liaising with the parish council, which is applying for a grant, and started fund-raising.

He said: 'Defibrillators should be as common as fire extinguishers. Without one, when someone has a cardiac arrest they have a 5pc chance - with one it becomes 50pc.'

Fairhaven manager Louise Rout said they were 'extremely grateful' to Michael.

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