The Western Isles is better protected with 100 AEDs available throughout the island chain
The Western Isles are one of the best protected communities in the UK in terms of life-saving training and equipment thanks to a collaboration between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and charity Lucky2bhere.
The 100th automated external defibrillator (AED) on the islands was presented last week to the management of The Cabarfiedh Hotel in Stornoway – the result of the proactive approach taken by the local authority and Lucky2bhere which has provided more concentrated access to AED, and comprehensive Emergency Life Support Training (ELS), than anywhere else in the UK.
Comhairle Councillor Angus Morrison has been instrumental in the campaign both as a Councillor and a Volunteer Trainer and Co-ordinator at Lucky2bhere.
He suffered a heart attack in 2015 and is well aware of the important of timely life-saving intervention.“After my heart attack I wanted to raise awareness of the need to have both easy access to AEDs and the necessary life-saving skills to deal with a sudden cardiac arrest,” he said.
It was Mr Morrison’s vision to see AEDs in every community in the Western Isles – and the scheme has seen that number increase from seven to 100 in less than 18 months.
And ELS training, including how to operate an AED, is now provided routinely by Lucky2bhere Eilean Siar volunteers in all 24 secondary and primary schools across the Western Isles as part of the curriculum.
Director of Education for the Western Isles, Bernard Chisholm, helped create the framework for change by making AED provision possible and championing the ELS training.
And AEDs are now available 24/7 at every school in the Western Isles, both for school and wider community use, all signposted from local roads.
The proactive approach to life-saving training is widely adopted across Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries, where survival rates after sudden cardiac arrest are as good as one in two. In the UK the rate is only one in 20.
Around 60,000 people in the UK have an out of hospital cardiac arrest each year, and if CPR is started early and there is an AED available, it can double the person’s chances of survival.
Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education for the Western Isles (centre), with Sara Yohn and John Macpherson from Cardiac Science (left), and Ross Cowis from Lucky2bhere charity with Cllr Angus Morrison
The autonomy to make this a priority in schools at local authority level has been key according to Lucky2bhere founder Ross Cowie.
“We work all over Scotland educating people on how to save lives, but the progress we have made in the Western Isles, and in just 18 months, has been phenomenal,” he said.
“The 100th AED installation is evidence of a commitment to making learning life-saving skills a strategic local authority priority and it will keep this community safer in the future.”
The islands’ AEDs are provided by manufactures Cardiac Science and Managing Director Shaun Ingram added: “This is the highest concentration of AEDs we have ever supplied to one small community making it by far one of the best served.
“Coupled with the great work of Lucky2bhere in training volunteers and the drive of the local authority and local community fundraising initiatives this is a model to watch.”
A celebration dinner was held at the end of November with trainers and supporters to mark an extraordinary 18 months of progress in life-saving education and the installation of the 100th AED in the Western Isles.
Island AED trainers and supporters celebrated the achievements of the past 18 months recently