Defibrilator training for St Albans Abbey staff

Simon Marshall, community partnership training officer at East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST),

Simon Marshall, community partnership training officer at East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST), gives defibrillator training at the Abbey in St Albans - Credit: Photo supplied by EEAST

ALMOST three years after successfully resuscitating a man outside the Abbey, first-aiders at the historic cathedral have had their life-saving skills boosted.

Simon Marshall, a community partnership training officer at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), visited the Abbey for an annual refresher course in using defibrillators.

With around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK every year, these machines which deliver an electric shock to the heart help save lives.

Music secretary Gemma Saunders and Verger Andy Clark recalled how a defibrillator kept at the Abbey helped save the life of a man in November 2010.

Andy said that the man had walked up the hill, through the orchard, and thought he was suffering indigestion, but had trouble breathing and suddenly collapsed outside the Chapter House entrance.

Andy added: “His breathing was non-existent and he was starting to turn blue.

“The adrenalin just kicked in and we got the defibrillator and started using it while doing CPR, after primary checks and calling the ambulance – this was the day after we had been trained on how to use it.”

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The British Heart Foundation recommends that if someone is not breathing normally, to check their breathing, start CPR, tell someone to call 999 and get a defibrillator if one is available.

“The charity has placed more than 9,500 of the potentially life-saving machines around the country since 1996.

Simon described the Abbey first-aiders as “an asset to the community of St Albans”.

EEAST spokesman Gary Sanderson added: “I am very sure that members of the public who frequent the cathedral will feel reassured that they have dedicated life savers on hand if there is an emergency.

“All six members of staff who completed the refresher course are a credit to the cathedral and our trust is very pleased indeed to have taught them how to save a life; well done.”