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Villagers hope defibrillators will avert further tragedies

PUBLISHED: 19:00 08 February 2019

The renovated phonebox owned by the Red Lion has now got a defibrilator which will be vital for the East Bergholt community heartwatch team. Picture: JONATHAN PEACHEY

The renovated phonebox owned by the Red Lion has now got a defibrilator which will be vital for the East Bergholt community heartwatch team. Picture: JONATHAN PEACHEY

Archant

In the days before mobile phones, the village phone box in East Bergholt was a lifesaver for those needing to make an urgent call and today that role was reinstated.

The Red Lion phonebox is part of the grade II listed building. Picture: JONATHAN PEACHEYThe Red Lion phonebox is part of the grade II listed building. Picture: JONATHAN PEACHEY

The defunct phonebox outside the Red Lion pub in the heart of the village has been put to use and, as of today, it houses a life-saving defibrillator - the third to be installed in East Bergholt.

There is already a publicly-accessible defibrillator at Flatford Mill and another outside Constable Hall but the third means help is even closer to hand for those living near the pub.

Val Ayton, who sits on the Heartwatch committee, has been the driving force behind the new defibrillator after spotting that the phone box was empty and could be the perfect home for the life-saving device.

She said: “There are no defibrillators at this end of the village so the addition is essential, especially when the pub reopens and more people socialise in the area.”

The existing defibrillators have been called into action in the past - they were used in 2017 when a woman in her 20s suffered a cardiac arrest following an overdose and again when a villager suffered a heart attack. Tragically, on both of these occasions the community responders and paramedics were unable to save the victims.

Jonathan Peachey, who has been renovating the Red Lion pub for the last 18 months and is set to reopen it later this year, was more than willing to be involved in the community project.

He said: “It’s nice to finally be able to give something back to the village with the defibrillator.”

East Bergholt was home to the first community responders in Suffolk - volunteers who are first aid trained and serve their rural communities in an emergency, often arriving before paramedics because they are based in the area - and the group has been running for 15 years.

Val, 68, is one of six who serve the village along with team coordinator, Carol Moss, 81.

She said: “The group was initially set up by a woman in the village whose husband sadly died following a cardiac arrest in 2004.

“The ambulance service are amazing but unfortunately you only have eight minutes to re-establish oxygen supply to the brain to ensure a successful recovery. This is why having community responders in the area is vital - we are nine miles from both Colchester and Ipswich.”

The volunteers are called out an average of 10 times a month for a variety of life-threatening situations including choking, strokes and cardiac arrests.

The first responders will be running a number of sessions in the coming months to teach people the correct way to safely use the new defibrillator.

There are also defibrillators located nearby in Holton St Mary, outside East End Butchers, Brantham Leisure Centre and outside Bakes & Blossoms in Brantham.

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