The Wokingham Paper

Defib vandalism in Earley could cost lives

The defibrillator perspex was smashed open, and the device was then removed to prevent it being stolen Picture: Steve Blythen

A LIFE-SAVING piece of equipment has been vandalised in Earley, meaning it is no longer available for public use.

Last week, the defibrillator cabinet outside of Radstock Lane Community Centre was damaged —the perspex glass casing has been smashed.

The defibrillator inside was left intact, but the device has been removed in order to prevent it from being stolen.

This means it is now unavailable for the foreseeable future.

Steve Blythen, from Beyond First Aid, a training organisation based in Earley, is a ‘guardian’ for the defibrillator — he is responsible for maintaining the device.

“I did some of the fundraising work to install this defibrillator,” Mr Blythen said. “One of the ladies in the community lost her brother to a heart attack because there was no defibrillator around.

“Thankfully this one has never been used.”

And Mr Blythen is now concerned about the community not having access to this device.

“If someone in the community were to have a cardiac arrest, this equipment could potentially save them,” he said. “It’s absolutely vital, and this vandalism could now cost a life.”

“Shame on whoever did this, it’s absolutely disgusting and I hope that whoever caused this never needs to use it.”

Claire Page, who founded the Lilly-May Page Trust following the death of her daughter in 2014, has campaigned tirelessly to have defibrillators installed in the area.

She was equally upset when she heard that the Radstock Lane Community Centre defibrillator had been damaged.

“I feel really disappointed with whoever has done this”, Ms Page said. “After the past six years, I don’t understand why someone would go and vandalise life-saving equipment.

“There was so much awareness around Lilly-May, and I feel very hurt that someone could do this.”

And Ms Page wants to remind the community about the importance of having public defibrillators.

“The survival rate for those having sudden cardiac arrest out of hospital is incredibly low, but with the use of a defibrillator it goes up to 70%,” she added.

“It’s important that they are available because with every minute that passes when someone is in cardiac arrest, chances of survival drop.”

Mr Blythen has since been offered a perspex screen free of charge in order to fix the cabinet, and is now waiting on the order to arrive.

It is estimated that the cabinet will be out of use for the next month.

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