Two South Shields businesses launch fundraising efforts for new public-access defibrillators
Two South Shields businesses are appealing for residents to help them raise funds for new public-access defibrillators in the town.
Although the provision of publicly-accessible automated external defibrillators (AEDs) has been thrust into the spotlight again this year, South Tyneside still lags behind many other parts of the country in terms of local coverage.
The Fitfam Fitness & CGPT gym and Cafe 42 coffee shop on Chapter Row have now launched separate fundraising drives in an attempt to redress that deficit.
Similar community efforts have already seen such devices installed at Readhead Park, as well as at popular borough pubs and a village post office over the last 12 months.
One of the family pair who run Cafe 42, Alan Clark, told the Gazette that a near-miss at the start of the autumn brought the subject to his doorstep.
The coffee shop is now holding a ‘mega raffle’ – details of which can be found on its Facebook page – to help it push beyond the approximately £400 already raised.
“The idea’s been in my mind since we set up, but it’s something I’d never got around to doing until someone took ill in the coffee shop around two months ago," Mr Clark said.
"My son, who runs the coffee shop, rang 999 and was told there’d be a two-hour waiting time. Fortunately, Sam had his car handy and he was able to take this elderly gentleman to the hospital very quickly.
"It wasn’t a heart attack in the end, but it could’ve very easily been one. I know heart attacks don’t always discriminate through age, but we do get a lot of older customers in the shop.
"It’s always been a worry, so I’ve decided now is the time to do something about it.”
Between April 2018 and November 2019, there were 5,710 recorded sudden cardiac arrests across the North East. Bystander CPR was provided in only 1,614 of those cases and just 285 of those people survived to later be discharged from hospital.
Ambulance services have also come under sustained pressure during the coronavirus pandemic, reducing the likelihood of a rapid response for those in need of urgent medical attention.
Moreoever, a recent YouGov survey found that over a third of adults in the North East did not know the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack, nor did they know how to perform CPR.
Kristie Graham, who runs Fitfam Fitness & CGPT, hopes to hold an exercise-based fundraiser event in South Shields before the year is out to help push the campaign for an AED unit outside the fitness centre in Mitre Place.
The North East Ambulance Service has already provided the gym with a £500 grant, while the Love Hearts Appeal charity has also put £300 towards the centre’s defibrillator fundraising effort.
“I’ve just redone my first aid course,” Ms Graham said.
"I was talking with the instructor there, who was driving home just how important they are.
"And, with what’s happened at the football this year being so fresh in everyone’s memory, I thought it would be a good time to try to push for this and help ensure there is better support for people in future.”