‘Shoctober’ bid by North West Ambulance Service to find hidden defibrillators

NWAS Community Engagement Manager, Andrew Redgrave launches the campaign #findthedefib.
NWAS Community Engagement Manager, Andrew Redgrave launches the campaign #findthedefib.
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Life-saving defibrillators are being hunted down as North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) launches the second year of ‘Shoctober’.

The month of October has again been taken over by ‘Shoctober’ as NWAS asks people to #FindTheDefib and tweet their selfies in order to help find the estimated thousands of life-saving machines that have been bought with good intentions but aren’t registered with the Trust.

It’s essential for ambulance services to be aware of the locations of all public defibrillators (AEDs) in their area in order for Emergency Medical Dispatchers to direct 999 callers to them in the event of a nearby cardiac arrest.

A cardiac arrest occurs when person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and to their brain. Without intervention, the person will die within minutes.

AEDs are small machines which can ‘shock’ a person’s heart into restarting in the event of a cardiac arrest and if this can be done in the vital first few minutes, patients have a 60-70 per cent chance of making a full recovery.

Last year during Shoctober, the Trust received almost 6,000 tweets which led to the locations of 290 defibrillators which were previously unknown to the Trust.

NWAS Community Engagement Manager, Andrew Redgrave said: “The use of public defibrillators can mean the difference between life and death for a patient in cardiac arrest.

“They allow everyday members of the public can become lifesavers by delivering the all-important shock before we’ve arrived. Even just two or three minutes earlier can make a huge difference.

“We know that many people raise funds in their local area to have these installed but what they often do is forget to tell us they’ve done so. This means that we could get a call for a suspected cardiac arrest where this vital piece of kit is available and we can’t tell the caller to go and get it.

“Due to the success of last year, we’ve decided to make this year bigger and better and we’re really pleased to be linking up with ambulance services across the country who are getting involved by asking people to #FindTheDefib in their local areas.”

AEDs are easy to use, easy to carry and won’t deliver a shock unless it is required. There is no clinical training required to be able to use the machine. Last year, the Trust attended 13,579 suspected cardiac arrest incidents in the region and this number increases year on year.

The Trust knows that many large business such as hotel chains, factories, shopping centres and smaller organisations such as social and sports clubs raise funds and install AEDs and is asking the public to ‘find the defib’ and let NWAS know.

The location of AEDs can sometimes be marked with a sign showing a white heart on a green background, or they could just be mounted on a wall behind bars, in corridors, gyms, leisure centres, offices, tourist attractions, schools, colleges, restaurants, coffee shops – anywhere at all!

If you see one, take a selfie with it and you can either tweet the photo via @NWambulance using the hashtag #findthedefib, giving as much information as possible regarding its location.

Or, send the photo via North West Ambulance Service’s Facebook page or email nwasenquiries@nwas.nhs.uk if you don’t want to send a photo, just mail the location details and NWAS will make sure the device is logged on the system and ready to use in the event of an emergency.

Throughout the month of October, NWAS will post photos of AEDs around the region via its social media sites and wants as many people as possible to feature in the ‘Shoctober’ campaign.

The Trust will also feature those whose lives have been saved by a public defibrillator and hopefully, there’ll be a few famous faces taking part with a ‘defib selfie’.

Please help your ambulance service to help you. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a cardiac arrest, don’t you want the person next to you to be able to save your life?