Putting life-saving in the heart of town

Pittenweem recently joined other villages in the East Neuk to have a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) installed.  Pictured beside the PAD on the wall of the local chemist's are Ken Brereton,  Jean Duncan, Cllrs. Elizabeth Riches and Donald Macgregor and Iain Rooney of the pharmacy
Pittenweem recently joined other villages in the East Neuk to have a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) installed. Pictured beside the PAD on the wall of the local chemist's are Ken Brereton, Jean Duncan, Cllrs. Elizabeth Riches and Donald Macgregor and Iain Rooney of the pharmacy
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THE Operation Heart Start charity in St Andrews is proposing to instal life-saving equipment in key locations in the town and also neighbouring villages.

The charity led the way in Scotland when a pilot project for a national scheme to provide defibrillators in local ambulances was launched on St Andrew’s Day in the late 1980s by then local general practioner, Dr Hamish Tait.

Following its outstanding success, Heartstart Scotland, was unveiled the following year.

The St Andrews charity is now keen to further expand the use of the life-saving equipment and is contacting local community councils seeking their views and secretary, Dr Tait, said:”Since we launched our programme in 1987, there have been many advances in the treatment of heart attack. It has long been known that the best hope of recovery from cardiac arrest is early treatment with a defibrillator, a machine designed to deliver a controlled electric shock which can get the heart going again.

“Over the years, such machines have become more and more sophisticated and yet easier to use.”

Now, in the drive to make defibrillation more available and eradicate unnecessary time delays, the charity is looking at ‘public access defibrillation,’ and finding key locations to place machines which can be used by any member of the public.

And, the beauty of these machines is that they can be used without any training at all and without any risk.

Dr Tait, who is now retired from general practice, explained that the East Neuk community councils, in association with East Neuk First Responders, have a campaign to meet this need in their areas and are already well down the road to success.

“Heart Start has given them some support and we would like to see something similar happening in St Andrews and the neighbouring communities,” he added.

As a first step, the charity has written to community organisations in and around St Andrews, to seek discussions and ask if they would be interested in exploring the initiative and, if so, can suitable locations and a group of people prepared to undertake supervision of the equipment be identified.

He said:”This is neither arduous nor time consuming. Heart Start has the resources available to provide and install the machines, so there would be no financial commitment for any community council.”

The charity has already presented defibrillators to several local organisations, including St Andrews Links Trust and the East Sands Leisure Centre.