Anyone could need this help

March 31 2014

PEOPLE in Downend are being urged to take a new lifesaving campaign to their hearts.

PEOPLE in Downend are being urged to take a new lifesaving campaign to their hearts.

Martyn Poole, of Downend Connect, wants groups and individuals to raise money to install defibrillators in key locations to help cut the risk of deaths from cardiac arrest.

He has been inspired by Elaine Stiddard, whose life was saved by a quick response when she collapsed at a choir practice in Frenchay Parish Hall.

She has since spearheaded efforts to place two community defibrillators in Frenchay Village. Mr Poole would like to see Downend and Staple Hill follow her lead.

He plans to invite groups such as Round Table, Rotary, WI and Probus to get involved and would like to hear from anyone who can help.

“Heart attacks strike without warning and cause 100,000 deaths in the UK each year. It can happen to anybody and it is something you don't think about until it happens to you or to someone you know,” he said.

Less than five per cent of victims of sudden cardiac arrest survive but defibrillation within three minutes increases the chance of survival to over 70 per cent.

This is what has prompted a number of local communities, including Pucklechurch and the University of the West of England, to install defibrillators, with the backing of the ambulance service.

The lifesaving devices are housed in remotely controlled cabinets, which have power and a secure connection over the internet so the defibrillator can be continuously monitored and the temperature maintained. The ambulance service can remotely unlock the device and send an alert to a nominated locals who can help with treating the patient until the 999 crew arrives. Anyone can use the defibrillators with telephone instruction from ambulance HQ.

The defibrillators costs £2,500 each and the cabinets £800.

There are many causes of a cardiac arrest. In young people, it might be an undiagnosed genetic defect but for the majority the cause is a “heart attack” where a sudden blockage of a coronary artery cuts off the blood supply to an area of heart muscle, starving it of oxygen and causing chest pain.

Anyone interested in supporting the campaign should contact Mr Poole on 0117 9570805 or email him at


ELAINE Stiddard knows she is incredibly lucky. When she collapsed at choir practice in Frenchay Village Hall, an ambulance crew was there within a few minutes.

“My friend had started CPR and the ambulance team brought a defibrillator to shock my heart into starting again,” she said. “It took them six to eight attempts to get me going again. My heart was stopped for 20 minutes.”

Elaine, 70, was in a coma for eight days and in the Bristol Royal Infirmary for five weeks last summer but has made a good recovery.

She knows that she would not have made it without defibrillation and her experience has made her determined to spread awareness of the need for the lifesaving devices.

Elaine has led efforts to get two defibrillators for Frenchay, one outside the village hall and another at a site to be agreed, and she is fully behind a campaign for Downend.

“I felt strongly that this was needed, because once the hospital shuts there will be nothing medical-wise in Frenchay,” she said. “these defibrillators will beneift everyone in the village as well as visitors.

“Heart attacks can strike anyone any time. I didn’t feel a thing.”