Opinion: All our parks should have defibrillators

PUBLISHED: 08:00 21 October 2018

Havering's London Assembly Member Keith Prince.

Havering's London Assembly Member Keith Prince.


A couple of weeks ago I was speaking to residents in a local park when a woman came running towards us, shouting that she needed a defibrillator urgently.

It rapidly became clear that a man nearby had had a heart attack and was not breathing.

Being first aid trained, I ran towards the man who was lying motionless on his side. Fortunately, one of the two people already on the scene was a fireman, who had expertly managed to revive the casualty.

This was a deeply traumatic experience and made me realise how important defibrillators are. The park I was in didn’t have a defibrillator, meaning that if it wasn’t for the fireman present the man would have died.

For those readers who don’t know, a defibrillator gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest.

Defibrillators can literally save lives.

I am trained to use a defibrillator, but they are extraordinarily easy to use – the accompanying instructions are crystal clear.

Defibrillators are simple, yet unbelievably effective.

Around 30per cent of people survive a cardiac arrest in a public place, but when a defibrillator is used the chance of survival can rocket to 80pc.

Defibrillation within three minutes of a person collapsing can increase the chance of survival to over 70pc.

For every minute that passes without defibrillation a casualty’s chances of survival decrease by 12pc.

I want to see a major roll-out of defibrillators across Havering and Redbridge, and I have written to our local councils to urge them to make this an absolute priority.

Many of our local parks have tea points or pavilions – they would make the perfect places for new defibrillators. I will continue to push for this important change.

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