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Grantham's defibrillator shortage is 'putting lives at risk'

A lack of potentially life-saving equipment which could be used in the event of a cardiac arrest in Grantham town centre has been highlighted this week.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have become commonplace in towns and villages, but in Grantham’s busy centre there are few.

And those that do exist are not available out of normal office hours, for example in the offices of South Kesteven District Council.

Rotarians Graham Smith and Mike Charity at the spot outside The George Centre where a defibrillator will be installed. (11375208)
Rotarians Graham Smith and Mike Charity at the spot outside The George Centre where a defibrillator will be installed. (11375208)

However, thanks to the efforts of the Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven, one is soon to be located in Westgate, on the external wall of The George Centre.

Rotarians Graham Smith and Mike Charity are the driving force behind the project. They have been working on it for around 12 months and have now obtained permission from The George Centre and joined forces with AED provider the Community Heartbeat Trust to supply one for £1,700.

However, as the club is “a little short of the total required,” they have been busy asking businesses in the Market Place and Westgate area - who would most benefit from the AED - if they can contribute.

In a letter to businesses, the pair wrote: “A defibrillator is an essential and much-needed life-saver and the sooner we are able to achieve our aim the better.”

Graham told the Journal: “Local businesses have been very supportive. Some have opened their tills and given us money, others have approached their management.

“Market stallholders are supporting us as well.”

Mike said he was pleased they were able to secure a spot in Westgate as the area is a “hive of activity, particularly at weekends”.

Graham said: “There’s no set age for a heart attack and despite what people say about shops closing, there’s a lot of trade done in the area. When you walk around, it’s surprising how many local businesses there are here.”

Mike added: “[A cardiac arrest] can happen to anyone at any time.”

The Rotary club will pay the £150 annual maintenance charge to ensure the defibrillator is fully functioning at all times. The Community Heartbeat Trust carries out maintenance and also provides the necessary insurance.

The issue of a shortage of defibrillators in Grantham town centre was raised by Labour councillor Charmaine Morgan at the full meeting of South Kesteven District Council on Thursday.

Coun Morgan, who is chairman of campaign group SOS Grantham Hospital, believes Grantham is missing out because it has no town council, which she says would usually deal with the installation of AEDs.

She called on SKDC to take “urgent action” during the council meeting.

She said: “I called for a progress report on my request that SKDC provide defibrillators in public places throughout Grantham and where necessary in the district.

“Leader Coun Matthew Lee supported the provision of defibrillators in Grantham but suggested it may need to go through [the overview and scrutiny] committee. The committee process however can be slow and may not be necessary.”

She added: “With no A&E in Grantham at night at present, the lack of defibrillators in Grantham is hugely concerning. [Emergency service charity] LIVES state they must be available to the public 24/7 and placed no more than 500m from each other.”

Coun Morgan said the issue has been raised with her by street pastors, who help late night revellers at weekends, and LIVES, while a recent police report also highlighted the lack of AEDs, she said.

* Anyone wishing to help the Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven meet their fund-raising target to secure the AED for Westgate is asked to call Mike on 01476 563896 or email michael.charity917@btinternet.com


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