Libraries to loan out life-saving equipment and training at the heart of South Yorkshire communities

editorial image

Rotherham is set to become the first borough in the UK using its libraries to loan out life saving equipment and training to the public.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF)’s Rotherham Heart Town partnership will deliver life saving community CPR training kits and public access defibrillators (PADs) to all libraries over the next few months. Under the pilot project, the BHF is funding community CPR training kits for all 15 libraries. These innovative Call Push Rescue training kits include everything needed to learn CPR in half an hour. Members of the public will be able to borrow the kit for local community organisations and return it after their training session, just as they would a book.

The first five defibrillators will be placed outside Rawmarsh Library, Kimberworth Library, Greasbrough Library, Maltby Service Centre and Thorpe Hesley Library in December where they will be fixed and accessible to the public.

The BHF is co-funding these defibrillators with Westfield Health, a leading not-for-profit health insurer, who has also funded cabinets to house these life saving units.

In the New Year, a further ten defibrillators and cabinets funded by Start-a-Heart 24:7 will be delivered to remaining libraries across the borough.

Project partners Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) will be providing defibrillation and CPR training sessions for members of the public at all participating libraries, as well as on-going equipment maintenance support for the duration of the project.

A cardiac arrest happens when your heart stops pumping blood around the body and can happen to anyone at any time. Currently less than one in ten people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest1 in the UK.

A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. For every minute without defibrillation and CPR, chances of survival decrease by around ten per cent. So it’s really important the people of Rotherham know both of these vital steps to help someone in an emergency.

Councillor Ken Wyatt, Chair of Rotherham Heart Town, said: “From my background with South Yorkshire Ambulance Service, I know that cardiac arrest can strike at any time, and in these situations every second counts.

“I’m proud to have been involved with the Rotherham Heart Town scheme since it started over five years ago. People and businesses around Rotherham have really shown what big hearts they have, and their generosity means we can provide more public defibrillators so that, if the worst happens to any of us, help is never far away.”

Councillor David Roche, Rotherham Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Housing, added: “Our libraries are fantastic places at the heart of their communities. We are delighted that they are involved in a community project that could save lives.”

Emma Scott, Community Defibrillation Officer with Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We are pleased to be part of this exciting initiative which will save more lives. It will lead to more people in Rotherham knowing how to do CPR and being able to access a defibrillator. When a member of the public calls 999 they will be directed to their nearest defibrillator and told how to use it. A combination of early CPR and defibrillation can dramatically increase a cardiac arrest patient’s chance of survival.”

Westfield Health Chairman, Graham Moore, commented: “Defibrillators are life-saving pieces of equipment. The faster the treatment is delivered the better the outcome, and if a defibrillator is used within the first few minutes of the heart stopping it can increase the patient’s survival chances by more than a third.

“At Westfield Health, we’re very proud to have been supporting the delivery and installation of defibrillators to venues and facilities across our South Yorkshire heartlands and more widely across the country for a number of years now.

“We’re very pleased to support the BHF and the people of Rotherham in this fantastic initiative and we hope to see the pilot project rolled out more widely – helping to save lives across the UK.”

Trish Lister, Trustee with Start-a-Heart 24:7, said: “Start-a-Heart 24:7 is very proud to be able to support the Community Libraries Project bringing these valuable life-saving units to even more areas of our town. A heartfelt thank you to the individuals and organisations in Rotherham who have made our involvement possible.”

Lauren Mallinson, Fundraising Manager at the BHF, said: “When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, every second counts. So we’re delighted that Rotherham is so committed to training residents, school pupils and community groups in life saving CPR. With just 30 minutes of training in CPR, they will be given the skills that could mean the difference between life and death for someone who suffers a cardiac arrest.”

The BHF and its partners hope to create a Nation of Lifesavers to improve survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrest and ensuring that all young people are taught CPR and PAD awareness at school.