Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has fitted public access defibrillators (PADs) outside of every fire station across Kent and Medway and has made them freely available for use by local communities.

The rollout of this equipment to 56 KFRS facilities countywide, is intended to give members of the public a better chance of helping to save someone who is in cardiac arrest.

When someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest, prompt action by anyone nearby offers their only chance of survival.

A defibrillator (also referred to as an automated external defibrillator or AED) is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. This high energy shock is called defibrillation. Most people who survive will have needed a shock from a defibrillator to correct a chaotic heart rhythm.

KFRS Assistant Director Ian Thomson said: “When someone goes into cardiac arrest, often close relatives, friends or colleagues feel helpless, but with some basic life-saving skills and access to a defibrillator, they have the potential to make a real difference to the outcome for that person.”

Defibrillators at fire stations to help save more lives - Kent Fire and Rescue Service

Studies have shown that a shock given within 3 minutes of cardiac arrest provides the best chance of survival and that even one minute of further delay reduces that chance substantially. Further studies have shown that immediate delivery of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) combined with early use of an automated external defibrillator by members of the public gives a person in cardiac arrest the best chance of surviving.*

If you find someone in cardiac arrest, first make sure you are safe and then immediately call 999 for an ambulance. You should then start basic life support and CPR, and this should be continued until help arrives, to provide the best chance of survival of the casualty. If you have someone with you, ask them to find the nearest defibrillator and bring it to you.

Defibrillators at fire stations to help save more lives - Kent Fire and Rescue Service

Defibrillators are lightweight, very easy to use and guide the operator through the process with prompts and commands. The machines give clear spoken instructions, so no specific training is needed to use them. The equipment analyses precisely the victim’s heart rhythm and will only deliver a shock if it is required.

Ian Thomson added: “KFRS already works with South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) to deliver basic life-saving skills, including CPR, to school children and community groups each year as part of an national ‘Restart-a-Heart’ initiative and the provision of PADs at our fire stations is part of our commitment to ensure that as many lives can be saved as possible.”

SECAmb Blue Light Collaboration Manager Matt England said: “We are really pleased that KFRS is increasing the availability of defibrillators in the community, as they can make a real difference to a patient in cardiac arrest. When you dial 999 in a cardiac arrest situation we will provide you with guidance on basic life support and let you know where the nearest PAD is located, as well as sending ambulance resources.”

Defibrillators at fire stations to help save more lives - Kent Fire and Rescue Service

KFRS’s defibrillators are stored outside of each fire station in a clearly marked cabinet. The cabinet is unlocked to save valuable time in an emergency, however an alarm will be triggered to tell us that the defibrillator has  been accessed.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service will be donating further PADs to community groups and organisations in order to increase the availability of defibrillators across Kent and Medway and will also be arranging localised defibrillator awareness events to members of the public throughout 2018.

To receive information about these events as they are arranged sign up to the events section on the KFRS Facebook page @kentfirerescue.

Further information is available from the British Heart Foundation and the Resuscitation Council (UK)

*Resuscitation Council (UK)