Stacey and Luke are pictured donating defibrillators to, left to right, Charlie Torrence (South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade volunteer), John Maughan (South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade volunteer), Joanne McGowan (project administrator at Salvation Army Southwick Community Project), Julie Judson (child and family worker at Salvation Army Southwick Community Project ) and Gary Hannah (South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade captain)

Lifesaving donation from ambulance crew

Three defibrillators donated following charity zip wire challenge

Two Emergency Care Technicians have hand delivered three defibrillators to local organisations after taking part in a charity zip wire from the Tyne Bridge.

Stacey Fox and Luke Hopper, who both work for North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), based at Ryhope ambulance station, took part in the charity effort in April last year to raise money for North East Hearts with Goals, which places lifesaving defibrillators into communities across the region.

With a combined service in the ambulance service of around 10 years, Luke and Stacey were looking to raise £777 – the price of one defibrillator – through the event, but surpassed all expectations by raising enough money to buy three.

They have now hand delivered the defibrillators to the Salvation Army Southwick Community Project, South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and Cullercoats FC.

Stacey, aged 28, of South Shields, had a personal reason for wanting to raise the money.

She said: “My dad has an extensive cardiac history, having had seven heart attacks and a cardiac arrest. Because of my dad, everywhere I go, I want there to be one available.

“On top of this, my work out on the road gives me first-hand experience of how important it can be for patients to have a defibrillator on scene.

“We had a lot of donations from our family and friends but also from our NEAS colleagues so we’d really like to thank everyone for their support. I hope none of these have to be used but if they are I hope they make a difference.”

“We respond to cardiac arrests all the time and know that every second without a defibrillation in certain cardiac arrests will reduce a patient’s chance of survival,” added Luke, aged 23, of Fulwell.

“We only intended to raise enough money for one so to be able to buy three was amazing. We actually raised enough money for two and a half and then John Barnfather, who we work with at Ryhope, said he’d top us up to three if we gave the defibrillator to his football club as they’d been trying to buy one for a while.

“It’s great to be able to see your hard work, all the fundraising that we did, go to good use.”

When a person goes into cardiac arrest, their heart is beating erratically. A defibrillator sends out an electrical shock to the heart, which momentarily stops the heart with the aim of bringing it back to a normal rhythm.  The defibrillator automatically detects whether it is needed, meaning anybody can use it.  The sooner defibrillation begins, the better the patient’s chance of survival.

NEAS is aware of around 215 community public access defibrillators (cPADs) across the North East, available for members of the public to use in an emergency after calling 999. This is on top of hundreds of static defibrillators placed inside many public places across the region, such as leisure centres and shopping centres.

Julie Judson, child and family worker at Salvation Army Southwick Community Project, said: “It’s been absolutely fabulous to be given the donation of a defibrillator, not just for the centre but for the wider community as well.

“It gives reassurance to the community for them to know it’s there as, if the worst does happen, it increased a person’s chance of survival.”

Gary Hannah, captain of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, which covers the area of the coast from South Shields to Sunderland, added: “We are really grateful to Stacey and Luke for raising this money for us.

“We are involved in a lot of incidents with the ambulance service, working directly alongside them, so adding a defibrillator to the equipment we carry will really enhance our capabilities and allow us to be able to provide a better level of care.”

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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