By Anna Morrell with additional reporting by Tarsila Burity
The local church is at the heart of many communities across Wales, but St James' Church has taken ‘heart’ one step further. The village of Wick is not only hometown to former Beijing Olympic cyclist and gold medallist Nicole Cooke, it is now the first village in Wales to install Public Access Defibrillators (PADS) on its church building for use on cardiac arrest victims.
The church was first approached by the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) for the innovative PADS project due to its central location within the village and because church is usually open and therefore accessible to people within the community in the event of a collapse. Hosted by the Church in Wales, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and supported in training by WAS, the project aims to identify public areas that will benefit from having volunteers trained to perform basic life support in conjunction with using an automated external defibrillator. Volunteers can then respond to victims suffering a cardiac arrest and deliver appropriate care until the ambulance service arrives on scene.
Elaine Tanner, BHF Cymru Development Manager for Wales said: “We are delighted to be able to support this new initiative. A cardiac arrest is the ultimate medical emergency – early defibrillation must be given if the patient has any chance of surviving. Only 3% of people who don’t have access to a lifesaving defibrillator survive. This is a shockingly low figure. Defibrillators placed strategically across Wales in areas of high footfall can save lives. Many more Welsh lives could be saved with more defibs in the community. That is why BHF Cymru are launching a new high profile appeal at the National Eisteddfod in August, working with the Welsh Ambulance Service to fund more community resuscitation initiatives across our communities.”
WAS, in partnership with the Welsh Government, has trained more than 4,000 volunteers across Wales to man PADS sites in places such as railway stations, leisure centres, mining museums and even up on top of Snowdon Mountain, but this is the first PADS sited at a church.
For those living in the area, a public event was held at the church yesterday evening to raise awareness about the project and train people in the village in using the defibrillator. An official scheme launch however will be held this Friday 3rd August at 10am at St James' Church, on which occasion the equipment will be placed on the wall in the porch of the church and the Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan will convey a blessing on the defibrillator.
“I’ve blessed some unusual places and items over the years, but this is the first I’ve done for a defibrillator which, ironically of course, I hope will never have to be used. However, parishioners and the community of Wick as a whole can hopefully take great comfort form the fact that the defibrillator is available to them."