A thief has put lives at risk in Uckfield by stealing a vital piece of equipment.
The removal of a defibrillator on the Manor Park Estate has been called “bitterly disappointing”.
Community First Responder Senior Team Leader for North East Sussex (Lewes, Uckfield and Heathfield), Faith Lee, told this website she discovered the theft when doing an audit of public access defibrillators in the Uckfield area for the South East Coast Ambulance Service to check batteries and pads were “in date” and the equipment was ready for use.
Her first reaction on discovering the empty box at Tesco Express, Browns Lane, was that the equipment had been used and not returned.
Checks showed it had been stolen. It is not known exactly when the defibrillator was taken because the cabinet it is kept in is usually closed.
Faith said: “ I am bitterly disappointed that someone could take a piece of life-saving equipment.
“Residents on Manor Park have told me in the past how they value the presence of the equipment so near their homes if someone in their family suffers a cardiac arrest.
“I can’t imagine anything worse than running to get the defibrillator and finding it is not there when you need it.”
The defibrillator at Tesco Express cost more than £1,000 and was funded by equal contributions from Uckfield Lions, the Manor Park and Hempstead Fields Residents’ Association and Uckfield Town Council.
She believes the person who took the equipment does not fully understand how their actions could prevent a life being saved.
“Unfortunately we don’t know when it was taken, but I am glad I was making the checks and found it missing before someone ran up to get it for use in an emergency.
“Uckfield Lions have reported the theft to the police and every effort will be made to replace the machine as soon as possible.”
If you have information, contact Sussex Police on 101.
Why are defibrillators so important?
They are vital and can save lives if used immediately on someone who has had a cardiac arrest in conjunction with early CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
It has been announced this week that 30 London taxi cab drivers are piloting a scheme whereby they carry defibrillators and get notified by London Ambulance Service of cardiac arrests so they can be first on scene.
Faith added: “Every second counts when someone goes into cardiac arrest – to have someone needing that defibrillator and finding the box empty doesn’t bear thinking about.
Defibrillators ‘buy time’
“In every case of cardiac arrest, the important thing is to dial 999, get the ambulance on the way, start CPR and get a defibrillator, if you can, without wasting time.
“The essential thing is to ‘buy time’ for the casualty by starting effective CPR until the ambulance crew or a community first responder arrives.
“I hope it will be possible to get another defibrillator in place on Manor Park before anyone needs it.”
The Lions and residents’ association are in discussions about a replacement.
• There have been a number of incidents in Uckfield where defibrillators have been vandalised since they were installed in many locations across the town, many with the help, work and generosity of the town’s Lions Club.
• The defibrillators do not need specialist knowledge or training to use and can be used by members of the public.
Earlier this week, a set of blue safety police safety lights, helping protect people working at the scene of a serious road accident in Lewes Road, Ridgewood, were stolen. See here
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