The life-saving power of defibrillators taken to heart at Bembridge RNLI
The importance of defibrillators in saving lives was brought home to the coxswain of the Bembridge lifeboat recently when he became involved in helping assist a man who had fallen in the street on the Isle of Wight.
The incident came at the same time as the crew at Bembridge are raising funds to get a defibrillator fitted to the outside of the lifeboat station.
Guy Willing, who only became coxswain at Bembridge two months ago, was about to enjoy a rare afternoon off when he became stuck in traffic on Foreland Road, Bembridge.
On realising the hold-up was because someone had collapsed on the pavement, he left his vehicle and found a group of people carrying out CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and using a defibrillator to try and get the man’s heart started.
‘You can’t walk away from that,’ explained Guy, ‘I said would you like me to have a go and I carried on with the compressions while another person at the scene did the air. I just did what I was trained to do.’
Guy and the other members of the public at the scene used the defibrillator to shock the man four times before the paramedics arrived on the scene and he was taken to hospital.
‘I wasn’t saving lives at sea, but was an extremely small cog in a group of about four or five people, I gave a bit of assistance in a small way’, said Guy who moved to the island in 1974 when his father, who was in the Navy, was posted to Portsmouth.
The demonstration of the effectiveness of defibrillators in saving lives came at a pertinent time for Bembridge Lifeboat Station. The crew are currently raising funds to buy a defibrillator machine which will be placed on the outside of the lifeboat station and available for use to the general public.
‘It just goes to show how important defibrillators are – and shows why the crew are carrying out their own fund-raising to get a machine on the outside of the station,’ said John Keyworth, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Bembridge.
‘We need to raise £1750 and we are nearly there. Using defibrillators, which give a high energy electric shock to the heart, have been shown to be very effective when treating people who have gone into cardiac arrest,’ he added.
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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.