Maggie’s determination has got a quick response

SAVING lives has been a passion for Maggie Hackney. She is convinced that we can all help preserve life when people are in danger of dying. For the past 24 years she has been a clinical exercise practitioner working for the NHS in surgeries and homes givi

SAVING lives has been a passion for Maggie Hackney.

She is convinced that we can all help preserve life when people are in danger of dying.

For the past 24 years she has been a clinical exercise practitioner working for the NHS in surgeries and homes giving advice and help to those who have suffered illnesses and heart problems.

She also teaches people how to cope with anyone who has a heart attack or cardiac arrest.


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Six years ago she embarked on a crusade to try and raise enough money to site three defibrillators in Hitchin's town centre.

The defibrillators are now in place, people have been trained to use them with the £6,000 needed for the project coming from her appeals for help and the support of the local fire station which raised funds.

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Two major awards have come her way, one from the Beds and Herts Ambulance and Paramedic Service NHS Trust with the citation saying: "For her energy, time and commitment in ensuring the success of the Hitchin Community First Responders scheme.

"Maggie's dedication, hard work and fund raising have been instrumental in supporting the training and equipping of the first responders in the area. Maggie's contribution is highly valued by the ambulance service."

Maggie, 60, married with three children, said: "Once I decided I wanted defibrillators in Hitchin I roped as many people in as I could to help me, including the firefighters who have been a tremendous help in raising funds.

"I looked at it like this; not having a defibrillator around is like not having any insurance on your house. You never know when you need it.

"So once I decided what I wanted to do I got the organisation off the ground with five other people and we started Hitchin Community First Responders."

Maggie, who has lived in Tilehouse Street since 1981, says she is heartened knowing she has helped provide a lasting legacy for the people of Hitchin that one day might save a life.

"But my work has not stopped and it never will. I am still teaching people life-saving skills and how to deal with a person who has gone into cardiac arrest or had a heart attack," added Maggie.

"All the training is done on behalf of the British Heart Foundation. It takes two hours to train a community responder, and I have done it in homes and even a pub. I will go anywhere if anyone wants to volunteer.

"To be trained to use the defibrillator has to be done by a paramedic but we have enough people trained to use our defibrillators to give people who have had a cardiac arrest or heart attack treatment until an ambulance arrives with paramedics."

So what is Maggie planning next?

"There is no reason why the system we have in Hitchin could not be rolled out in Letchworth GC, Stevenage or Baldock," added Maggie.

"I am always available to give advice to set up a scheme in their communities."

Over 300 people in Hitchin have now been trained in emergency life support in the last six years in a programme set up by Hitchin Town Centre Initiative and Boots the Chemist, with Maggie spearheading the campaign.

"Over 270,000 people in the UK suffer a heart attack each year, that's a heart attack every two minutes and nearly a third of these people die before reaching hospital," said Maggie.

"A bystander, often a relative, with no medical expertise is likely to be the first person on the scene. It is important we all know what to do and help to keep someone alive until professional help arrives.

"That's why taking part in an emergency life saving course is so important. It can teach you the skills you need to save life.

"You never know when you might need these skills. I would urge people in Hitchin to take advantage of our free courses and sign up today."

For more information you can contact Maggie on 01462 621673.

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