British heart Foundation presents two defibrillators from Mayor of Cheltenham’s appeal
04 August 2004
For 7 August 2004: The presentation of two defibrillators - specialist equipment to save the lives of heart attack victims - has confirmed the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s position as a ‘First Responder’* first aid provider.
The defibrillators, which cost around £1,250 each, have been presented by the Cheltenham branch of the British Heart Foundation as part of their share of the outgoing Mayor of Cheltenham’s charity appeal.
Chris Stockman, the GWR’s Health and Safety Officer, says that the defibrillators are a vital part of the GWR’s ability to provide top quality first aid to visitors.
“Getting on for 100,000 people visit the GWR each year and some days are extremely busy,” he says. “Although people suffering heart attacks are mercifully rare, it’s vital that we can offer first aid fast when it does happen.
“A defibrillator really can mean the difference between life and death - the chance of survival following a cardiac arrest decreases by 10 per cent for every minute before the equipment can be applied.”
Chris points out that Toddington Station is some way from the nearest ambulance station. “The fastest response we could expect in an emergency is about 15 minutes. That might not seem long, but after a heart attack every second counts.”
Chris, who is a fully qualified first aider, believes the GWR is the first heritage railway in the country to establish a first responder unit. “We have worked with the British Heart Foundation and the Ambulance Service to set this up over the past 18 months and they have provided invaluable encouragement, support and training.”
Chris Syer, Treasurer of the Cheltenham branch of the British Heart Foundation, said that the GWR was a natural choice for part of their £9,000 share of the Mayor’s Charity, which last year raised over £27,000.
She says: “We’re impressed by the thoroughness of the railway’s First Aid facilities and their aim to become a First Responder unit in their own right. Yet all of this has been achieved by volunteers.”
The Foundation also presented defibrillators to Yorkley Heath Centre and to a Cheltenham-based cardiac nurse.
Cllr. Garth Barnes, outgoing Mayor, believes this is a real milestone in the GWR’s progress. “I and my colleagues on Cheltenham Borough Council have watched with interest the progress of the railway, which now runs from Toddington to Cheltenham Race course. I believe it can play a big part in the future of the region, both in transport and tourism terms. It’s grown rapidly and this presentation underlines the responsibility of the railway towards its visitors. Chris Stockman and his team have worked extremely hard to provide the best possible first aid cover. I had no hesitation in supporting the British Heart Foundation’s proposal to present two defibrillators to the Railway.”
The defibrillators were presented on Saturday 7th August at Toddington Station, when outgoing Mayor Cllr. Garth Barnes entertained volunteers from the British Heart Foundation, Help the Aged and Cheltenham’s Norton Park Appeal on the GWR’s ‘Fish & Chip Special’.
Media contact: press.office “at” gwsr.com, or telephone Ian Crowder on 07775 566 555.
British Heart Foundation: Chris Syer, 01452 555 892
Cllr Garth Barnes: 01242 230 638
* ‘First Responder’ is an initiative between the Government and the British Heart Foundation to establish volunteer teams able to provide oxygen and defibrillation for cardiac arrest victims and stabilise their condition before medical help arrives. The GWR’s defibrillators will be located at Toddington and Winchcombe and will be available to the wider community. The GWR will welcome volunteers for whom training will be provided, to help provide the maximum amount of first aid cover.