A defibrillator was stolen from Abbey Walk in St Andrews last week. University staff had placed the defibrillator at a location on the street following a fundraising effort by a staff member who had a relative saved by the use of the device.
The defibrillator that was stolen is one of 19 that Heart Start, a registered charity in St. Andrews and the East Neuk o’ Fife, has placed in the town. The medical devices have been used several times in the past to successfully save lives. The recent theft of the £1,300 device has left the townspeople feeling angry and disappointed.
The investigation around the theft is ongoing. The police request that “anyone with information [to] contact St Andrews police station on 101, quoting incident number 0997 of October 5.” If the missing device is returned in the next few days, no further action will be taken.
In the town of St. Andrews there are currently 19 defibrillators available for public emergency use. Heart Start provides a map of all defibrillator locations, including specific details about the devices’ exact whereabouts in and around the town. The charity also provides information on various first aid interventions, including basic life support, defibrillation, and proper response to choking.
Bystanders are capable of doubling the rate of survival by providing CPR, but many are unaware of how vital an immediate response is. In addition to a quick response, early defibrillation, provided from an automated external defibrillator (AED), can save lives. Members of the public need not be formally trained how to use the device as it will provide specific instructions. The Red Cross stresses that the “shock is only administered if the AED has identified a life-threatening heart rhythm which requires treatment with an electric shock. The user cannot do any harm with the AED.”
According to St. Andrew’s First Aid, “Defibrillation is the best way to treat cardiac arrest; if defibrillation is achieved within the first three minutes the chances of survival increase to above 70%.” There are many training courses available near St. Andrews for those willing to learn how to use a defibrillator or learn more about first aid. Heart Start also provides community training classes at the Madras Community School, which provide basic life-saving skills.