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The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"The NHS hopes to save hundreds of lives each year"
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Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK
First public defibrillators arrive

Many heart attacks happen in public places
The first life-saving heart defibrillator to be placed in a public place under a government scheme is to be unveiled on Monday.

The MetroCentre shopping mall in Gateshead will have nine defibrillators, and members of staff have been trained in how to use them.

The government hopes to install 700 more in bus and railway stations, shopping centres and airports in England over the next year.

If used correctly, they can restart the heart of some people who have gone into cardiac arrest.

Public health minister Yvette Cooper, who is helping launch the project, said: "This scheme is the first of its kind in Europe and forms one part of our national strategy for tackling heart disease."

Dr Roger Boyle, the government-appointed National Director for Heart Disease, said: "The first few minutes after a cardiac arrest are vital to a person's chances of survival.

"Treatment needs to be provided within that time and these defibrillators will increase the chances of treatment being provided quickly to save a life."

200,000 fewer deaths

He said that the defibrillator project would help the government achieve its target of 200,000 fewer heart-related deaths by the year 2010.

A similar scheme in Chicago's O'Hare Airport last year resuscitated five people in just a five week period.

Modern defibrillators are easy to use
More than 90 staff from the MetroCentre have been trained how to use the defibrillators

Modern defibrillators are easier to use - some give voice instructions to the user and calculate the exact amount of electrical current to deliver.

In England 112,000 people die each year from coronary heart disease and nearly 57,000 from heart attacks.

The British Heart Foundation has been running "Heartstart", which trains members of the public in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

A spokesman said: "We have calculated that 70% of heart attacks occur in a public place.

"Of course, not everyone who has a heart attack needs defibrillation.

"But if your heart does stop, and the ambulance can't get there quickly, then you've got no chance.

"We would like to see more people trained in resuscitation techniques."

Belinda Linden, BHF Nurse Adviser, added: "The presence of defibrillators and fully trained operators in public venues could make the difference between life and death for someone having a cardiac arrest.

"The BHF welcomes any initiative to support the work we are doing to increase access to this life saving equipment."

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