A recent incident
Very recently, a 999 call was made to the South-East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) and the caller was directed to the nearest Public Access Defibrillator and given the box code. Here the situation became rather confused as it seems the shop didn’t have any information about the PAD and no one knew where the key was. I cannot say exactly what happened, but suffice to say the caller was unable to gain access to the defibrillator. This was not good and I will come back to that. The most important thing in this case being the outcome as far as the patient was concerned.
The 999 call resulted in a First Responder being activated. Luckily, he was very close to the patient and arrived on site within 3 minutes to start care and stabilisation. He was joined by an ambulance, and then 2 cars; one with a Critical Care Paramedic, and the other with a Clinical Team Leader. Therefore, the patient was attended by a highly skilled team. Sadly, and despite this, the patient did not survive.
Now back to the PAD box. The first question is, why do we lock them. The answer is quite simple. As a charity, we can obtain a smart defibrillator for a little over £800, but on the open market you would have to pay over £1000. I regret to say that if they were not in a secure cabinet they would disappear very quickly. Also, as they need to be available 24/7 they have to be outside and visible. As you can see from the picture, a PAD is in a large yellow box which has a key pad used to enter the code to open it. They are sited at the East Beach Evangelical Church, The Fisherman’s Joy, St Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Coop, the Fire Station and the Selsey Centre.
When a 999 call is made, the SECAmb call-taker will assess the situation and, if a defibrillator is required, the rescuer will be told the location of the nearest PAD and the code to open it. The line to the call-taker should remain open so that any further advice can be given. The defibrillator is a smart unit and will instruct the rescuer on its use. The call-taker will give guidance as required.
Situations such as that which occurred recently can be very stressful and confusing. The only advice we can give is try to stay calm and keep in contact with the SECAmb call taker. Easy to say, but hard to do.
We are aiming to do demonstrations around the town and these will be advertised in good time. The last demonstration was given on Life Boat day.