St Andrews man urges defibrillator owners to register their devices after surviving cardiac arrest

A father of three, who survived a cardiac arrest after surfing near his home in St Andrews, is urging defibrillator owners to register their devices on a national database to help save lives.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 2:28 pm
Bill Shackman, who suffered a cardiac arrest after going out surfing, with his wife Emily

The Circuit – the national defibrillator network, connects defibrillators to NHS ambulance services across the UK so they can be accessed quickly to help save lives.

Bill Shackman (48) had been surfing at East Sands Beach in December when he collapsed. He doesn’t remember anything about the morning of the incident or the hours afterwards.

Bill said: “People at the beach tell me after I’d been out in the water for a while, then I came back to shore.

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"I must have felt something wasn’t right, but I don’t remember anything. The next thing I know I am waking up in hospital.”

Fellow surfers ran to his aid – one had completed CPR training at his work earlier that week, another was a retired firefighter who knew where the nearest defibrillator was and ran to get it.

The men took turns performing CPR and used the defibrillator until paramedics arrived and Bill was taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

Bill says he owes them his life : “Quite simply, I wouldn’t be here without them, they were ready to respond and determined to keep me alive.

"I am so grateful to the whole community that came together to save me. I, my family, my friends - we can never thank them enough.

“If you are a guardian of a publicly accessible defibrillator then please register it with The Circuit.

"Knowing where the nearest defibrillator is, really could make all the difference to someone’s life. I know that only too well.”

Bill, who is an academic editor, lives with his wife Emily Michelson, a lecturer in history at the University of St Andrews, and their three children.

Emily said: “We know how lucky we have been. Only one in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Scotland and that is why The Circuit is so important to us.

"If a defibrillator isn’t registered on The Circuit then the ambulance service can’t find it when it’s needed the most. But doing so could help save a life.”

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