On the eve of Restart A Heart Day, October 16, Thameslink have announced they will shortly have publicly-accessible, life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at every one of their stations, the largest roll-out of heart restarters on the UK’s rail network.
The network has now been massively extended and upgraded with more defibrillators as part of a wider £15m stations improvement programme which involves over 1,000 projects across Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink, many suggested by local passenger and community groups.
More than 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrest out of hospital across the UK every year and fewer than one in 10 survive. However, early chest compressions (CPR) and defibrillation can double the chances of surviving.
Sam Facey, Head of Zero Harm in the Safety & Health team at parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said: “By fitting these life-saving AEDs, we believe we’ve made a genuinely positive contribution to the communities across our vast network, which covers London and nine counties.
“All our defibrillators are publicly accessible, so of huge benefit not only to those travelling with us but also the communities we serve. They’re fully automatic – anyone can use them – and our staff are being given familiarisation training.”
The AEDs are ‘smart’, giving verbal instructions and then shocking a patient only if they need it. They also use remote monitoring to sound the alert on dying batteries or out-of-date chest pads and all the cabinets are being wired in – to keep them warm and ready to go.
Sam added: “We’re fitting the same model across our network to provide consistency of quality, staff familiarity and maintenance, and at some stations, where we were updating an existing AED, we’ve been able to return the original device to local charities for use at a second location in the community.”
In an emergency, 999 operatives will shortly know the location of every AED and will direct people to them if they are close enough.
Restart a Heart, which takes place on or around October 16, is all about getting hands on and learning essential skills in CPR and defibrillation, and we’d encourage everyone to get involved so they can help someone if they collapse and stop breathing. Learn more about how to get hands on with Restart a Heart at resus.org.uk/rsah