THE COMMUNITY of Whiteness and Weisdale is the latest to benefit from the installation of two defibrillators, which will be stored at the community’s local shop and football pitch.
Defibrillators are designed to give a high-energy electric shock to the heart to people in cardiac arrest. The effort to secure the devices for the area was kick-started by physiotherapist and local footballer Ross Smith, who runs the Injury Shetland clinic in Lerwick.
Donations and fundraising from pupils at Whiteness and Weisdale Primary School were followed by the gift of two devices, one from gas company Total and site engineers Costain.
They will be located at the Strom football pitch and the nearby Robinson and Morrison shop, and stored in outdoor boxes so they can be accessible at all times.
Ross said that in his profession it was easy to see the benefits of stationing defibrillators at different sports facilities. Around 12 young people die every week in the UK due to cardiac arrests that a defibrillator might have helped prevent.
He said that after administering CPR for five minutes, a human’s effectiveness drops considerably.
He cited the example of retired Bolton and Arsenal footballer Fabrice Muamba, who survived his heart stopping for 78 minutes during an FA Cup match in March 2012 partly thanks to the use of defibrillators.
If highly-paid professionals with the best medical attention money can buy still sometimes have undetected heart conditions, Ross said, that proved it could happen to anyone and he was eager to have a defibrillator on hand for games and tournaments at Strom, which sometimes feature “hundreds of bairns running around”.
Victor Wilson of Total and Neil Bruce of Costain said they were pleased to be able to help. The companies teamed up with their workforce to raise money to support various small-scale local projects, and Whiteness and Weisdale is the first area to benefit after being nominated by subcontractor Tulloch Developments.
They use “safety operation cards” as part of a drive to make staff more aware of the importance of safe working practices. Neil said Costain, like Total, “want the guys to go home in the same state they arrived in”.
As part of that, money is being raised through donations that go into a pot before site workers select a good cause to support once every three months.
Ross added that, in conjunction with the Lucky2BHere charity – whose Shetland branch has helped ensure there are more than 20 community defibrillators stationed throughout the islands – it is hoped that a training event will be staged for members of the community to learn how the devices work.