Community Access Defibrillator Project

Community Access Defibrillators

For every minute that a patient in cardiac arrest is denied the use of a defibrillator, their chances of survival decrease by 10%.

Whilst not a specific Arran Resilience project, this work feeds in very well to the Arran Resilience concept and is therefore featured here.  Led by one of Arran’s responders Fiona Laing, it seeks to develop a network of Public Access Defibrillators across the island.  There is increasing support for providing defibrillators where there are many people (e.g. shopping centres) or where the ambulance is likely to take a bit longer to get to the scene, for example due to distances involved in rural health care.

Thirty years ago, it was discovered that if a series of events took place, in a set sequence, a patient suffering from a heart attack stood a greater chance of survival.  These events are now known as the “Chain of Survival”.


If you suspect that someone is having a heart attack every second counts.

Link 1: Call 999 for an ambulance as soon as you can.

When links 2 and 3 are provided within eight minutes of a cardiac arrest, a person’s chance of survival increases to 20%.

Link 2: Perform CPR, no equipment is needed.  It can buy valuable time until a defibrillator arrives.

Link 3: Defibrillation at the earliest possible moment.

Link 4: A paramedic or doctor provides advanced care.

If links 1,2 or 3 aren’t performed quickly, the best paramedic or doctor in the world won’t be of any use.

Arran is 56 miles round, has one ambulance, one first responder group and nine GPs.  How long will it take for a defibrillator to arrive at a person in cardiac arrest – in most cases too long.

How can everyone on Arran become a part of the “Chain of Survival”?

Firstly, the more people trained to a high standard in CPR, the greater the chances of a defibrillator working.  Enrol in a HeartStart course – it takes 2 hours and can help save a life.

Thanks to Fiona’s work, as well as enthusiastic local support & fundraising, there are now over five public defibrillators on Arran, with more in the pipeline.  This represents a significant amount of work by all involved to bring defibrillator access to their communities.

What about children?

Defibrillators have evolved to be fully automatic.  The defibrillators that will be used for the PAD scheme will only discharge electricity when a shockable heart rhythm is detected, not at any other time.  They have existed in many other areas for several years now, with no problems of theft/inappropriate use.

This video highlights the main features of a Public Access Defibrillator scheme.


To find out more about how you can help, email Fiona at: