DEFIBRILLATORS are being installed on Whalsay’s pelagic fishing fleet courtesy of a charity formed by a Skye man who is alive today thanks to the life saving equipment.
The medical equipment will also be put into the Whalsay Boating Club, Symbister Hall, the Whalsay Golf Club at Skaw and the Shetland Fishermen’s Association offices at the Stewart Building in Lerwick.
The idea came from Charisma crew member Jimmy Tulloch, who is also an ambulance driver on the island.
During a discussion with a locum doctor working in Whalsay, Tulloch learned about the charity Lucky2BHere, which was set up by Ross Cowie from Portree in 2007 after he survived a cardiac arrest at his local shinty club thanks to the fact that an ambulance with a defibrillator on board was passing by at the time.
He said: “I got in touch with Ross when we were at sea – in the Irish Sea – and it has snowballed from there.
“Ross was in Shetland last week with a team of trainers who have been showing the crews how to use the equipment.
“We hope we will never have to use them, but all the evidence shows that your chances of surviving a cardiac arrest are much higher with CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and defibrillation, so these machines could be life savers.”
Cowie, whose charity has installed scores of defibrillators in different locations in Skye and across Scotland, including schools, said installing them on fishing boats was a new departure.
“We have not put defibrillators on to fishing vessels before, but we are hoping that this is just a start. We will now look at putting them on board some of the larger boats in the whitefish fleet as well.
“The vital thing for us is to install defibrillators where they can save lives, wherever that might be.
“In the UK fewer than one in 100 people survive cardiac arrest compared to 50 in 100 – or one in every two – in the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
“That’s because CPR and defibrillation are taught in schools. Not only is the equipment available in many more places in these countries, but the confidence exists among people to use it when it is needed,” he said.
Defibrillators will be installed on board the Adenia, Antarctic, Antares, Charisma, Research, Serene and Zephyr.
Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation has made a donation of £25,000 to the charity, while the Whalsay Gala committee donated £1,500.
“We depend entirely on donations to keep this important work going and are delighted with this very generous support from the producers’ organisation,” Cowie said.
“We’re sure it can lead to the provision of more defibrillators. We are hoping to establish a team here in Shetland so that more equipment can be installed and training in its use carried out.”