Public Access Defibrillators to be installed at all Royal Berkshire Fire Stations

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is installing Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) outside all fire stations across the County in an effort to help save the lives of people who suffer a cardiac arrest.

To date, 10 PADs have been fitted to stations, with the remaining eight being installed over the next two months.

The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) will be located outside the front of the station in a secure cabinet and will be available to the public at all times, in the event of a cardiac arrest occurring in the vicinity. The defibrillators have been installed as part of an ongoing partnership between RBFRS and South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and will add to the growing network of PADs being installed on buildings across the country.

If someone suffers a cardiac arrest, a defibrillator can deliver an electrical current through the chest, which aims to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm, allowing it to pump again. The PAD is designed to be safe and easy-to-use. It is clearly labeled with activated voice instructions to guide the user whilst they wait for an ambulance to arrive. The defibrillator detects the heart's rhythm and will not deliver a shock unless one is needed. In an emergency, proper use of the devices, in conjunction with the ambulance will offer the casualty the best chance of survival.

This is just one way in which RBFRS is contributing to a broader safety, health and wellbeing agenda in the communities it serves. It further builds upon ongoing cooperation in the Co-Responding pilot schemes running across the County, in which RBFRS provides a first response to specific medical emergencies such as cardiac arrests, heart attacks and strokes, in advance of an ambulance arriving on scene.

In an emergency, if suitable, a 999 operator will direct the caller to the nearest defibrillator. Defibrillators can also be easily located online via SCAS’s ‘Save a Life’ application which can be accessed by smartphone or tablet.

All operational vehicles owned by RBFRS already carry AEDs.

Neil Carter, Group Manager at RBFRS, said: “We are delighted to be installing the Public Access Defibrillators outside every fire station in Royal Berkshire. Our stations are naturally situated in the most populated areas, providing ideal locations for the devices in the heart of communities. The defibrillators will be available to the public 24 hours a day and not just when the fire station is occupied. We’ve worked closely with South Central Ambulance Service to identify the most suitable public access box to purchase and we are pleased to be able to provide these to the community.”

Steve Cartwright, Community Responder Trainer from South Central Ambulance Service, said: “It is our vision in SCAS to have everyone in the South Central region within eight minutes of a defibrillator wherever they live or work. This latest initiative in partnership with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is another step forward towards this goal.

“When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, for every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation their chances of survival reduce by 10%; so in a short space of time their chances of recovery can slip away completely. SCAS has the highest percentage of all ambulance trusts in England of cardiac arrest patients surviving to leaving hospital and getting more publicly accessible defibrillators installed across our region will help us save even more lives.”