Sudden cardiac arrest and automated external defibrillators

Each year, 135,000 people in the UK die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. The condition can strike anyone at any time – young or old; fit or not. That’s more than breast cancer, lung cancer and AIDS combined. In 2012, the high profile experience of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba helped bring this to the public attention – and the life-saving value of an AED.

It is estimated that 85% of sudden cardiac arrest victims could be saved by rapid access to an AED. For every minute a patient is delayed in receiving defibrillation – their chances of survival drop by 10%.

All emergency frontline ambulances are equipped with defibrillators and are manned by staff trained to use them. But even though they’re likely to provide the best first response to an emergency, time is of the essence when someone suffers a cardiac arrest.  So the need for volunteers to be trained to use these vital machines couldn’t be greater.

What is an AED and who can use them?

Modern portable Automated External Defibrillators (AED) have made defibrillation a much simpler process than in the past, and only basic training is needed to use them effectively. They’re designed to be used by members of the public, and are very effective at guiding the operator through the process of administering a shock. They are widely available, safe and easy to use, and won’t allow a shock to be given to a victim who doesn’t need one.  It is not unusual for Volunteer Groups to look after the AEDs located in their communities.

How will the volunteers know when to take action?

In an emergency situation, the public will continue to ring 999 and ask for an ambulance in the normal way. West Midlands Ambulance Service will despatch an ambulance / paramedic as usual. There is no change to this process.

West Midlands Ambulance Service will recognise that a Public Access AED is situated in the area, and simultaneously contact the volunteers for a response. This can be done in a number of ways – the voluntary group will agree which system will work best for it.

The volunteer(s) will proceed to the AED, enter the PIN code, remove the AED from the enclosure – and go to the victim to render assistance until the ambulance crew arrive.

AEDs in Oswestry Rural Parish

Trefonen and Rhydycroesau

In October 2014 Andy Davis, West Midlands Ambulance Service, attended a Parish Council Meeting and gave a presentation explaining how important defibrillators can be in a rural environment.   The Parish Council realised how key these living saving machines can be arranged for Residents Meetings to be held during January and February 2015 . The meetings in Rhydycroesau and Trefonen were very well attended.

In March 2015 through donations received from local residents an AED was purchased for Trefonen. In Rhydycroesau, the local clubs, organisations and individuals have been very generous in making substantial donations to the defibrillator fund continuing most recently with the Gardening Club pledging proceeds from their Show to the fund.

In June 2015, a training day (provided free by the West Midlands Ambulance Service) was held and was again well attended by 26 volunteers from both Trefonen and Rhydycroesau.   There are now 2 groups responsible for the AEDs.  Parish Councillor Shirley Jones coordinates the group for Rhydycroesau and Mrs Val Smout for Trefonen.


Earlier in 2015 Morda CofE Primary School raised sufficient funds through various events to purchase 2 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). One AED is kept in the school and the other one was donated to the Parish Council for use in Morda.  Mr and Mrs Singh, owners of the Corner Shop, agreed to have the AED installed outside their premises.  Currently, the AED can be used in public places within 300m of the Corner Shop as it does not have a volunteer group to support it.

Defibrillator outside the shop at Morda
Defibrillator outside the shop in Morda

Headteacher of Morda Primary School, Mr John Eglin, explains: “The generosity of parents, friends and staff of the school has allowed the school to have its own AED and donate one to the community of Morda. I totally support the efforts of the Parish Council in trying to make sure the AED is available to as many people who live in Morda and the surrounding area as possible.”