Life-saving defibrillator installed in Hitchin town centre

The Essex & Herts Air Ambulance charity have installed a public access defibrillator outside their s

The Essex & Herts Air Ambulance charity have installed a public access defibrillator outside their shop in Hitchin's Churchgate. Picture: EHAAT - Credit: Archant

A defibrillator has been installed in Hitchin town centre by Essex & Herts Air Ambulance – thanks to council grants.

The potentially life-saving piece of equipment has been placed outside the EHAAT shop in Churchgate.

The computerised medical device is used when someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest and delivers electrical current through the chest, which aims to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. This, alongside CPR, is crucial.

EHAAT clinical director Stuart Elms said: “We are grateful to both Herts County Council and North Herts District Council for providing the grant funding and enabling the charity to purchase the equipment for use by the community.

“Our pre-hospital care doctors and critical care paramedics treat many out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year, and the NHS ambulance services treat approximately 30,000 per year.

“Care and treatment has advanced every year, but those receiving bystander CPR and early defibrillation have a better chance of survival. Public access defibrillators are a recognised safe method of initiating care for patients when time is critical.”

The air ambulance service plans to install public access defibrillators – which are designed to be used safely by untrained members of the public – outside all its charity shops.

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The charity hopes the defibrillator will encourage bystanders to get involved if they encounter a case of cardiac arrest, and provide the people of Hitchin with assistance before trained medical help arrives.

In a joint statement, Herts county councillors for Hitchin Derrick Ashley and Judi Billing – the latter of whom is also a district councillor for Hitchin Bearton – said: ”We’re delighted to support the installation of this defibrillator. This essential project makes an important contribution to Hitchin’s healthcare infrastructure.”

District councillor Clare Billing, vice-chair of the district council’s Hitchin committee, added: “I am very pleased the Hitchin committee was able to support the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance charity shop in Churchgate and that the public access defibrillator has now been fitted. Now, if it’s needed, the public can have access to this vital tool for saving lives in the centre of Hitchin. Also, with the new national database it will be easy to find the nearest defibrillator.”