The importance of defibrillators in public places was highlighted when a man’s heart was restarted after he collapsed in Haverfordwest last Friday – the first time the town centre’s machine has been used.

An 80-year-old man suffered a suspected heart attack and stopped breathing outside the Cwm Deri Vineyard shop but thanks to Riverside Shopping Centre worker Mike Davies’ first aid training – and a well placed defibrillator – he made it to hospital alive.

Haverfordwest has a defibrillator, located at Wimpey, provided by the Welsh Assembly, in conjunction with Health Commission Wales and the Welsh Ambulance Service in 2006.

Mike, along with other shop workers were trained in the use of the electric shock machines, often vital to restarting someone’s heart, by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Time is of the essence for heart attack victims.

Early treatment, like that provided by Mike, who was helped by a retired nurse who was nearby, can mean the difference between life and death.

Community resuscitation manager at the British Heart Foundation, Claire O’Neill said: “Having defibrillators to hand where people are likely to collapse or where large crowds gather is crucial. Many more people can be resuscitated successfully if defibrillation is given within around four minutes of someone collapsing.

“We pioneered the placement of defibrillators in the community and training local people how to use them and we know our efforts have already saved hundreds of lives.”

Mike said the retired nurse began CPR in the vital first minutes while he ran for the defibrillator, which gives you step-by-step instructions and logs vital data which can be used by ambulance and hospital staff.

“Hopefully it will be the last time I’ll use it,” said Mike, who went back to work as usual after the incident.

“It was a case of just do it. It was surreal, yes, but it had to be done. It did take a bit of time to sink in. I put the machine on and let the machine do it. The adrenaline was pumping and you do what you can.”

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman added: “Public access defibrillator sites are about giving someone that greater chance of survival if they are faced with a cardiac arrest.

“It is important members of the public understand that they can make a difference by learning these important but simple skills because the best chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest is to get a defibrillator to them in the first few minutes.”

Riverside Shopping Centre manager Roland Keevil praised Mike’s quick thinking.

“We are very proud of him and delighted that he was able to offer his assistance.”