A team of Community First Responders has joined forces with a British Heart Foundation charity to protect public access defibrillators in the New Forest from theft. Bransgore Community First Responders and Heartstart Bransgore New Forest have marked 11 defibrillators with SelectaDNA, a forensic marking system which will enable the police to identify where they have come from in the event that they’re stolen and recovered.
The defibrillators are housed in distinctive yellow cabinets and are ready to be used in cases of cardiac arrest. Local residents are within just eight minutes’ reach of this vital piece of equipment.
Community First Responders are volunteers trained to attend emergency calls received by the ambulance service and provide care until medical support arrives. Other equipment carried by the team on their emergency call-outs is also being marked with SelectaDNA and registered to the national police-approved database.
Mike Jukes, group co-ordinator for Bransgore Community First Responders, said: “Although there hasn’t been any problem with theft, it was considered prudent to take steps to permanently, yet discreetly mark the defibrillators in such a way that they could be identified if stolen and later recovered by the police.”
In 2016, the team attended several hundred emergency calls and were available ‘on-call’ for over 7,000 hours, which equates to over 81% of every day averaged out across the year.
Jukes went on to explain exactly why the new SelectaDNA initiative is so important to the local community. “The potential for our team to arrive on scene before an ambulance, especially in rural areas, is vital in providing immediate life-saving treatment. Helping patients at a critical time is our primary role, and we need to be confident that vital equipment, including public access defibrillators, is there and ready to use when we need it.”