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‘Shoctober’ success set to save lives

A social media campaign has helped to identify 290 pieces of life-saving equipment across the region that can now be used by North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) to help cardiac arrest patients.

NWAS’ shoctober campaign, which unsurprisingly ran throughout October, saw the public, schools, organisations and celebrities including Paddy McGuiness using the hashtag #findthedefib to locate defibrillators that could potentially be used to save a life in the event of a cardiac arrest.

NWAS asked its followers to ‘send a selfie and save a life’ whenever they came across a defibrillator, and tweet its location so that it could be checked against the list of defibrillators that 999 call handlers use to direct callers to when trying to save the life of a person in cardiac arrest.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are small machines which can ‘shock’ a person’s heart into restarting. They are easy to use as they talk through the process and they won’t deliver a shock unless it is required. There is no clinical training required to be able to use the machine.

Tweeted 5,864 times, #findthedefib led the ambulance service to 686 defibrillator locations, some as far as Hong Kong and Australia. Of those identified in the North West of England, 290 were unknown to the Trust and will be added to NWAS’ database to help save the lives of patients in the future.

MPs, schools, gyms, youth groups, fire services, police officers, sports teams, councils, supermarkets, media organisations, business owners and NWAS staff all rose to the challenge to ‘find the defib’ and their efforts will contribute to more lives being saved in the region.

NWAS Community Engagement Manager, Andy Redgrave said: “The response from the public and local organisations was absolutely fantastic. We hoped they would get behind us to make this campaign a success as we had zero budget for this, but never imagined it would go global!

“During the campaign we took the opportunity to involve our Twitter followers in quizzes and fact or fiction posts to help dispel many of the myths that exists about defibrillators, for example that only trained people can use them and that you can be prosecuted for using one incorrectly which simply isn’t possible.

“It’s heartening to learn that all these people know the importance of having defibrillators in public places. Our ultimate aim is for defibrillators to be installed in areas of high footfall across the UK, including schools and colleges, and for them to be positioned alongside fire extinguishers and first aid kits.

“A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone – young or old, at any time and the use of a defibrillator within the first few minutes, while professional help is on the way, can improve the chances of survival by up to 70 per cent.”

Last year, the Trust attended 13,636 suspected cardiac arrest incidents in the region and this number increases year on year.

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Editor at large, SalfordOnline.com