THE Gazette & Herald is launching an appeal this week to buy two defibrillators for Malton and Norton.

Our campaign, to provide the life-saving equipment for the local community, is backed by the family of Geoffrey Heward, who sadly died after collapsing in the street in Malton.

The Heward family said they had already received a great deal of support from local people and businesses.

A family spokesman told the Gazette: “Next time it could be a child and if there is a chance a defibrillator could save that life, then we need to do something to make sure one is available.

“If a defibrillator had been used on grandad there is a chance Geoffrey could have got to hospital and had his family there.

“Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but providing Malton and Norton with a couple of debrilliators would be a wonderful tribute to him.”

The family added that they were grateful to everyone who had come to his father’s assistance.

“There are a couple of people we haven’t managed to trace, but we would like to thank everyone for their help.

“We are really grateful for what they did to help.”

Mr Heward, who was a great-grandfather, collapsed in Wheelgate on Saturday, July 3. It is understood another person had suffered a heart attack near Butcher Corner just 48 hours earlier.

Mr Heward’s funeral was held at St Michael’s Church, Malton, yesterday (Tuesday).

John Millar, who was one of the passers-by who went to Mr Heward’s assistance, is also backing the Gazette & Herald campaign.

He said access to a defibrillator could have increased the 82-year old’s chance of survival.

“It would be fantastic to have two defibrillators which could be easily accessed – one in Malton and the other in Norton,” he said.

“We could also look at holding training and awareness days although the United Kingdom Resuscitation Council is on record as stating that they would rather a defibrillator be used by an untrained person than not at all.”

Mr Millar, who lives in Norton, said he had also spoken to a number of businesses who were willing to support the appeal including the Union Inn in Commercial Street.

Norton councillor Howard Keal, a member of Ryedale District Council, said: “It is wonderful the Gazette & Herald has launched this appeal and that the family has thrown their weight behind the campaign to provide the funding for this much needed equipment.

“I understand within 48 hours there were two incidents of people suffering fatal heart attacks within yards of each other in Malton.

“It is abundantly clear that speedy access to a defibrillator would have the potential to make the difference between life and death.

“I really hope that everyone will get behind the campaign.”

Dr Clive Diggory, a GP at Derwent Practice in Norton, said automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were designed to be used by members of the public.

“They are very easy to use and instructions are given via an automated voice,” he said, Dr Diggory added that the majority of people who suffered a heart attack had a good chance of survival, if a defibrillator is used.

“It would be good if we could have a defibrillator on every street corner as they do in Seattle in America, where they are stored in street lamps.

“Here, we have one at the surgery and there are several at Malton Hospital but I would certainly support any campaign to provide more in Malton and Norton.”

Anyone who is interested in holding a fundraising event or donating to the appeal should phone 01653 695600.

Full details of the appeal’s bank account details will be published next week.

Why defibrillators are vital

WHEN someone has a cardiac arrest, defibrillation needs to be prompt.

For every minute that passes, chances of survival decrease by 14 per cent.

Research shows that applying a controlled shock within five minutes of collapse provides the best possible chance of survival.

A defibrillator, also known as automated external debrillators (AEDs), is a life-saving machine that gives the heart an electric shock in some cases of cardiac arrest. This is called ‘defibrillation’ and can save lives. Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body.

An AED is very easy to use. The rescuer turns the machine on, which then gives voice prompts, telling the user what to do. They will be asked to put the pads in position on the person’s chest. These pads detect electrical activity in the heart and will be able to tell if a shock is needed.

Rural areas, communities served by poor road networks, areas which suffer traffic congestion or where large crowds gather, are all places where defibrillators are needed most.

The UK Resuscitation Council states that the use of AEDs should not be restricted to trained personnel.

“Such restrictions are against the interests of the victim of cardiac arrest and to discourage the greater use of AEDs by members of the public who may be able to preserve life and assist victims of cardiac arrest.

“This confirms similar advice from the British Heart Foundation.”