“Defibrillators can only save lives if people know where they are”.
That’s the message from Cardiff father-of-two Andrew Barnett, who suffered a cardiac arrest while playing football with his son at Eastern Leisure Centre - despite considering himself fit and healthy at the time.
The British Heart Foundation’s new campaign launched on Friday 22 October urges people in Wales to register defibrillators on a new national National Defibrillator Network database - The Circuit – which could help save thousands of lives from cardiac arrests in the coming years.
Andrew's story which - thanks to quick-thinking Better staff - had a happy ending has been chosen as part of the campaign to highlight the issue. In the film, which has been broadcast on BBC Wales, the 48-year-old football player describes the scene in December 2018 when his life was saved by strangers.
“I’d taken my son to an adults-and-kids’ Christmas football match. I was running around as normal, kicking the ball. From what everyone tells me afterwards, I pretty much just fell straight on my face. It just happened instantly. I had a cardiac arrest.
“Two of the leisure centre staff members ran out with the defibrillator, which was kept at the centre. I think luck was a really big part of it - my location, the trained staff, the available defibrillator.”
Eastern Leisure Centre duty manager Ben Clarke says: “I grabbed the defibrillator from reception and ran out - as soon as I got there, I could see he was not in a good way, he was unconscious. I started CPR - a colleague started unpacking the defib. I continued CPR and the machine showed he needed a shock.”
With assistance from Better colleague Sheila Mott, they restarted Andrew’s heart before paramedics arrived and took him to hospital.
Andrew was treated for a blocked coronary artery with a stent and medication and has returned to an active life once more.
Andrew, Ben and Sheila are calling on anyone with access to a defibrillator to register as a defibrillator guardian on The Circuit. Andrew says: “I think The Circuit is another emergency service. It's something that is going to be in our communities – town, cities and villages that will tell people and the ambulance service exactly where they can get hold of a defibrillator. Register your defibrillator to help save more lives."
Adam Fletcher, Head of British Heart Foundation Cymru says: “Every second counts when someone has a cardiac arrest and, alongside CPR, prompt use of a defibrillator is critical in giving them the best chance of survival. To put it simply - knowing where the nearest defibrillator is, could be the difference between life and death."