ON WEDNESDAY (Sept 15), just ahead of a Conservative-led debate on the issue in the Senedd, Health Minister Eluned Morgan announced an additional £500k to improve community access to defibrillators
The money will go towards enabling community buildings and sports grounds to access a defibrillator.
CARDIAC ARREST IN
THE PUBLIC EYE
In recent weeks a spotlight was thrown on cardiac rests after several high-profile on-field incidents and deaths, including some in Wales.
Only last month, 31-year-old Alex Evans from Cwmllynfell RFC collapsed and died during a memorial game for another club stalwart.
The matter came to mass public attention in May this year when Danish international keeled over live on television during a match in the European Football Championship.
In July, Welsh Government approved further funding of £2.5m over the next three years for Save a Life Cymru.
That money will enable further awareness-raising, fund new educational and training resources and improve public access to defibrillators.
There are currently 5,423 public access defibrillators registered with Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and the Circuit (the national defibrillator network).
Every year in Wales around 6,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest.
A patient’s chance of surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest decreases by an estimated 10 per cent with every passing minute.
When CPR chest compressions and a defibrillator are used together chances of survival from SCA increase from 9% to 50%.
First aid is a vital life skill, but unfortunately, too many people in Wales wouldn’t know what to do in an emergency situation.
MONEY MUST BE
Former Conservative MS and Shadow Education Minister Suzy Davies was the driving force behind the Welsh Government’s agreement to include life-saving lessons in Wales’s National Curriculum.
She also campaigned vigorously for community defibrillators while in the Senedd.
Suzy Davies welcomed the Welsh Government’s funding announcement.
Speaking to The Herald she said: “I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has announced this extra funding. However, l hope this doesn’t put communities off from their own fundraising activities.
“What matters now is that this money is used and distributed widely.
“There are many charities and other providers who can help you get a defibrillator, so it would be disappointing if this funding were left in the hands of just a few.”
Eluned Morgan added: “Not only do we need a comprehensive network of defibrillators, but also to ensure that members of the public are equipped with the skills and the confidence to use them, as well as CPR skills in the event a defibrillator is not available.
“Every second counts when someone goes into cardiac arrest. We can all help raise awareness of the importance of early CPR and defibrillation.”
SHAVE FOR LABOUR
On Wednesday, the Senedd debated a Conservative motion calling on the Welsh Government to recognise the need for a national defibrillator network and for increased funding to allow their installation in community halls, sports grounds, and independent shops to buy and install a defibrillator.
Plaid Cymru supported the Conservative motion.
Tom Giffard said: “There is no doubt that defibrillators are vitally important pieces of equipment which, if used within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, can increase survival rates from 6% to 74%.
“Some 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year in Britain, meaning now more than ever is the time to have defibrillators installed in as many easily-accessible places as possible.
“Politicians of all colours across the Senedd are as one on this issue, so I hope they support our motion and help save lives.”
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Sport, Heledd Fychan MS said: “Whilst we need to address the overall number of defibrillators, we also need to ensure that every unit is registered to allow the emergency services to locate them.
“Perhaps one way to find a defibrillator once it is activated by a member of the public would be similar to the AA phones on motorways, which give the exact location.”
Replying to the debate for the Conservatives, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MS Sam Kurtz said: “It’s not the stories of those who survive we should listen to, but the harrowing stories of those who have not survived, including the rugby player Alex Evans, the cricketer Maqsood Anwar, who both sadly lost their lives earlier this year due to not having access to a defibrillator.
“I know politicians are often bandied around as not having much common sense, but it seems to me that common sense should prevail in this instance.
“This should be a matter that the Welsh Government take forward with gusto to ensure that this life-saving equipment is available to all who may, sadly, need it at any one time.”
The vote on the Conservative motion tied 27-a-piece, following a Welsh Government wrecking amendment.
Obliged to do so by convention, Presiding Officer Elin Jones cast her vote to reject the Conservative motion.