A north-east community is making great strides towards ensuring more lives are saved by installing public defibrillators.
Voluntary organisations and firms have joined forces to make sure residents in Westhill are able to access the life-saving devices.
Assisted by first-aid charity St John Scotland, groups including Scouts, Westhill Bike Club, Jog Scotland and the local Round Table have all played a part. And companies in the area also chipped in to help pay for the defibrillators, which can cost around £2,000 each.
There are now 16 public-access defibrillators around the Westhill and Skene area, with nine of those available 24 hours a day if they are needed.
Joe Mackie, chairman of the St John Scotland volunteers in Aberdeen, said: “As a charity working to save lives in the event of cardiac arrest, we know how important it is to have easy and quick access to a defibrillator in an emergency. These machines can, and have, saved lives.
“Here in Aberdeenshire, we’ve been proud to work with the community in Westhill and the surrounding area through our community defibrillator scheme.
“It’s great to see everyone pulling together to raise money for defibrillators and raise awareness of this important issue.”
As well as helping the community access defibrillators, St John’s Scotland will deliver sessions teaching people CPR.
Joe said: “Our volunteers are looking forward to helping local people learn simple bystander CPR, and to show them how easy these machines are to use.
“Any member of the public can use one, you don’t need to have had training.
“All you have to do is switch it on and follow its instructions. We want as many people as possible to have the skills and confidence to step in in an emergency, so more lives can be saved.”
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The drive to improve life-saving facilities in Westhill has been spearheaded by a dedicated public access defibrillator group.
It was founded by ARI nurse Amanda McClean, retired physician Clifford Eastmond and business entrepreneur Chris Minchin.
The group has secured funding and the installation for four of the devices in the town, and is working to ensure more are installed.
Chris, who is also a member of Westhill and District Round Table, said: “It has been great to see individuals and companies come together to make this happen. This is what community is all about and it goes to show we should all be very proud of ours.
“Funds from the annual Santa Run and Westhill Gala will be made available to ensure that this vital life-saving equipment is ready for use by every member of the local community in their time of need.”
Scout group leader Chris Pinnell said: “Early defibrillation can significantly increase the chances of survival for those who develop sudden cardiac arrest and so we are delighted to support St John with this project.
“We hope the equipment proves life-saving in the long term.”
One of the firms supporting the campaign is Aberdeen Concrete which donated funds for the defibrillator at Milne Hall.
Meanwhile, the Westhill PAD group has organised a free drop-in session to help people become confident using the devices and raise awareness of CPR.
The event will be held at the Trinity Church on Saturday November 9.