These three Fleetwood women have funded 17 life-saving devices in Lancashire and want people to know that it's easy to use a defibrillator
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Helen Crane, Gillian Gallagher, and Gilly Atkinson, have raised enough money to fund 17 of the life-saving devices, which cost £1,200 each.
The friends have already fitted eight across Fleetwood since June 2021, and they have nine more waiting to be installed, including six in Poulton.
But the friends won’t stop at installing the equipment - they also want people to know that anyone can use a defibrillator.
Helen, 32, a senior health care assistant who lives on Wood Street in Fleetwood, said: “You don’t need to be trained or have qualifications. The device will talk you through what to do step by step, even giving a rhythm for compressions. The device, once in place, will analyse the heart beat and only give a shock if required so it can not harm anyone.”
They have been organising community sessions in partnership with the Fylde coast first responders to show people how to use the gear.
The volunteer first-aiders recently demonstrated their skills to a crowd of over 75 people at a family fun day on The Esplanade in Fleetwood.
Gillian, who runs Dolly's Ice Cream Kiosk close to the public conveniences, said: "If you can help the person in the first three to five minutes you've got a high chance of saving their life but every minute after that lessens their chances”.
And that’s where it all started - the area gets very busy in summer, yet the nearest device was too far away - at Marine Hall or Rossall Point tower.
So Gillian and Helen raised money to get a defibrillator at the boating lake in Fleetwood.
The target was £1,600, but they just kept going. They also pay for the upkeep of the units. Pads have to be replaced after each use - at £225 for a pack of 5.
And then Gilly Atkinson got involved after losing her daughter, Laura West, in April 2021.
Laura was 29 when she suffered a cardiac arrest while swimming in Lancaster. She couldn’t be saved.
“Laura was a fit and healthy young lady who was a medic in the army but unfortunately she had an underlying heart condition which was undetected.”
The first defibrillator was dedicated to Laura.
Helen said: “When footballer Christian Eriksen had a cardiac arrest, he was successfully brought back to life due to the fast response from his teammates and medical personnel using a defibrillator. It would have been a different outcome if one was not available.”
The three ladies have tirelessly raised money through online raffles, pub quizzes, and funday events - and hand-made heart themed jewellery.
Their next fundraiser is a psychic night with Emma Kinsey, medium to the stars.
It runs from 6.30pm – 10pm on May 10, 2022, at the north Euston hotel in Fleetwood.
Tickets are £20, which includes a hotpot supper and a small token gift.