THERE are hundreds of heart attack victims who are only alive today thanks to the swift use of a defibrillator, hence a new campaign to create a digital map that pinpoints the location of these lifesaving devices.
The initiative between the NHS, British Heart Foundation and Microsoft is, therefore, driven by the very best of motivations – they all know that early treatment, in the form of a high-energy electric shock, is crucial to a patient’s survival chances.
As a civilised society, and as a country which wants to enable the overstretched NHS to help itself, it makes sense for there to be a defibrillator in as many communities as possible – and particularly at busy shopping centres, leisure complexes and also railway and bus stations.
Yet there are a number of obstacles. The first is the cost, when Yorkshire Ambulance Service has written to 100 parish councils and businesses previously allocated defibrillators to ask if they will now foot the bill. Does the responsibility rest with NHS trusts or local communities?
The next is their upkeep – shamefully there have been occasions when these machines, which have to be kept in a prominent and public position out of necessity, have been vandalised. How can this be overcome?
And, finally, a digital map – and mobile phone app – will only work in areas where there’s wi-fi coverage. Yet it is those rural blackspots – the very areas where medical assistance will be some time and distance away – which have the worst coverage. If this campaign addresses these issues, even more lives will be saved as a result.