Help for a heart attack

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Mike Pepler of Rother Responders giving instruction in resuscitation

A demonstration of life-saving skills was given by a team of Rother Responders at 11 High Street, last Saturday, August 29. Several dummy torsos were scattered across the lawn, and visitors were instructed how to treat someone suffering cardiac arrest, more commonly known as a heart attack. That this knowledge of a simple procedure could save a life was vividly illustrated by David Festing, a young 50 year-old, who recently had the direct experience. Massive chest pains led to a short unconscious phase when his heart actually stopped beating, he said. Following an urgent 999 call by long-term friend Tom Hookey, the South East Coast Ambulance Service notified a Rother Responder who arrived within ten minutes in his own car and with the necessary medical equipment. First aid was promptly administered and by the time the paramedics arrived, Festing was again fully conscious. His story was typical: being rushed to the Conquest Hospital, straight into the operating theatre, stents inserted by micro-surgery into his wrist and camera to the heart. An hour and a half later, he said “I was in the ward, chatting up the nurses and within 48 hours, discharged and home”.

He was full of praise for the hospital but particularly for the initiative and skill of the volunteers of the Rother Responders, a charity and team of Community First Responders (CFR)who attend 999 calls in conjunction with the ambulance service. They have also been active in the community working with local businesses and parish councils to place 15 Public Access Defibrillators in the area, five of them in the town of Rye. Each defibrillator is in a locked cabinet. Jon Padovani, lead trainer, said: “It is vitally important that members of the public know what this equipment can do and how to use it in an emergency. To gain access, simply call 999 and ask for the ambulance service. Give them your location and they will give you the access code. This ensures that the professionals are on their way. The automatic external defibrillator is a device that automatically checks the heart to see if there is a shockable rhythm and gives voice prompts to the user for each step of using the defibrillator. This means anyone can deliver emergency aid whilst awaiting the arrival of the ambulance service”.

Rother Responders used this event to train members of the public in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a lifesaving technique to be used if someone is not breathing or if their heart has stopped, and in the use of automated external defibrillators. In excess of 200 people attended the event and received the free training. As well as training, cakes and drinks were on sale and a grand total of £370.50 was raised for the lifesaving charity to continue their work. Padovani added: “It was a huge success and we are very grateful for all the people that attended as well as the kind hosts who allowed us to hold the event there. Please look on our website for further training opportunities or if you would like to find out more about us. We are also on the look-out for further volunteers to join our CFR team in the local area”. Their close working partnership with the ambulance service is demonstrated by the fact that chairman Tony Thorne is also chairman of the South East Coast Ambulance Service.