ALL fire stations in mid and West Wales are now within 500 metres of a public access defibrillator to help save more lives.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) has been working with Save a Life Cymru (SALC) and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) to ensure that there are public access defibrillators (PAD) close to every single one of its fire stations.

The partnership identified that 23 of the stations were not within 500 metres of a PAD and these have now had their own installed.

The first unit was put in place in September in Carmarthen Fire Station and now all 23 have been fitted with a PAD, which can be used by anyone at any time of the day when there is a cardiac emergency.

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Anyone can have a cardiac arrest and more than 6,000 people each year will suffer one out of hospital in Wales. Concerning figures show that the chance of survival falls by 10 per cent every minute if CPR is not attempted or a defibrillator is not used and only around 30-40 per cent pf those suffering a cardiac arrest out of hospital will be given CPR by a bystander.

Roger Thomas, MAWWFRS chief fire officer, said: “MAWWFRS fire stations are recognised as community landmarks and are strategically located throughout our communities. I am delighted that this new partnership means that an increased number of our fire stations will now have 24-hour access to PADs which will greatly improve patient outcomes in the event of a cardiac arrest.”

Professor Len Nokes, chairman of Save a Life Cymru, said: “I am delighted that Save a Life Cymru and the Welsh Ambulance Services are continuing their partnership with MAWWFRS by giving communities in the region an improved 24/7 access to lifesaving defibrillators.

“This announcement is timely, as February is known as Defibuary – a whole month to focus on encouraging people to become defibrillator aware so more lives can be saved if a cardiac arrest happens.”

The defibrillators will be registered with The Circuit, a UK-wide network of defibrillators which is available to emergency services to be able to direct members of the public to the nearest one to them in an emergency.

A defibrillator is simple to use, with no prior training needed. If someone goes into cardiac arrest, call 999 and the operator will direct the caller to the closest defibrillator and provide the cabinet code. When it is activated, the defibrillator will talk the user through what to do – including placement of pads –, will analyse the heart rhythm and explain how to deliver a safe shock if it is the best course of action.

Defibuary is a campaign to educate the public about the importance of CPR and defibrillation that is held each February by WAST.