Heart attack death prompts action

Published on: 20 Dec 2017

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A DEFIBRILLATOR has been installed in Bromley Heath following the death of an elderly woman.

The 86-year-old had withdrawn money from the post office in Quakers Road before visiting the hairdressers Silhouette where she had a heart attack and died.

Since the tragedy eight months ago, postmistress Leanne Hurkett and Raj Sood from the MS2 convenience shop next door have lobbied Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council for a defibrillator. Thanks to their perseverance, the council agreed to foot the bill and the device has now been installed on the wall at the side of the post office and tea rooms.

Residents will be given the opportunity to take part in free evening training courses in January to learn how to use the life-saving device.

The sessions have been organised by Leanne's dad Barry, a former firefighter who now runs a company offering first aid and fire safety training.

He has already provided an all-day first aid course for staff from the rank of shops after concerns following the woman's death.

Mr Hurkett said: "They didn't want the same to happen in their shops and now everyone in the rank is trained to use first aid and a defibrillator. Everyone said that their staff had benefited from the course and that they would hopefully be ready with more confidence to react in a medical emergency.

"I'd done CPR five times in my job as a fire fighter so I know how important it is. In my experience, had a defibrillator been to hand, it might have saved the lady's life."

Mr Hurkett said it was now important that as many people in the community as possible know how to use the device.

"We are going to run evening courses for local people. The sessions will be over two nights with two sessions each evening and we can cater for around 60 people in total.

They will be around 45 minutes long and people will be able to come to the tea room, get training and have tea and cake. It will all be free and the course will be certificated."

Mr Hurkett has purchased a training defibrillator and has three manikins so anyone taking part will receive training which will be as close to a real life situation as possible.

Leanne, 23, 'rescued' the post office in December 2016 after it had been threatened with closure after former worker Mohammed Ahmed was jailed for stealing from six customers.

As a local resident, Leanne felt passionate that people living nearby should be able to access post office services without having to walk into Downend. 

Now locals have access to all the usual local post office services as well as additional services such as helium balloons, gift cards, occasion cakes, ironing, venue hire and buffets.

"We have had to regain the trust of local people so they feel confident in using the post office again," said Leanne.

"I don't think people realise half of what we do like cash withdrawals, banking and handling cheques. People go to the bank in Winterbourne when they could have literally just wandered up the road."

Leanne transformed the convenience store, which was part of the post office, into a tea room and cafe which opened its doors in March and is already proving to be a community hub.

"It has a lovely atmosphere and we get lots of mums coming in from the nursery and having breakfast," Leanne said. "It's also popular with elderly people. It's great they have somewhere to go which is easy to get to and isn't miles away. We could be the only people they talk to all day."

Leanne said having the defibrillator would be a real asset for the area.

"We were hopeful of getting one but didn't know for sure until it arrived here. We have been telling local people and they have said what a relief it is to know it's there especially for older people who are more at risk of heart failure. It could save someone's life."

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