Saving lives 24 – 7
Salem Baptist Church in Cheltenham has provided an extra layer of support to its community by installing a public use defibrillator on its building
The defibrillator is accessible 24/7, unlike those in businesses, schools or doctors’ surgeries.
Defibrillators can be used by members of the public if they suspect someone is having a heart attack, by giving a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest.
A tragedy prompted the church to join the town’s campaign to increase the number of public defibrillators in Cheltenham.
‘The father (mid 50s) of one of our Young Leaders for Guides died from a massive heart attack,’ explained church secretary Andrew McFarlane.
‘The funeral was at Salem and was standing room only, so we started looking at getting an accessible defib.
‘Then the pandemic struck so fund raising stopped. But in October 2021 there was an appeal for more public access defibs in Cheltenham. They had just been promised six by Spirax Sarco (a Cheltenham-based manufacturing company) and we were luckily allocated one, including free fitting.' (The unit and fixing costs total around £1800.)
It was fitted one Friday morning earlier this year. Just two days later it was accessed and taken to a nearby site. Ultimately it wasn’t required as the ambulance arrived quickly, but this was an early sign of its potential save lives.
The church has alerted its neighbours with a leaflet and will be running community days both to fund raise and raise awareness. The cabinet is accessible to anyone but needs a code to open it. If you suspect someone is having a heart attack, when you phone 999 the ambulance service will also tell you where the nearest public access defibrillator is and the code to access it, as well as despatching medical assistance. Once opened, the defibrillator itself talks you through the process of using, it as will the ambulance service.
Andrew says it makes sense for other churches to consider doing similar. ‘We would encourage anyone to access local charities or run an appeal, because sometimes a defib will be donated.
'It’s another way of supporting your local community.’
Photo | Helen Alderton, Salem’s ministry assistant (left), and Naomi Clegg who coordinated the acquisition and installation. The defib at Salem was fitted pro bono by MJF Electrical