Installing life saving defibrillator outside church a "no brainer"

An Edinburgh church has erected a lifesaving defibrillator on railings outside the building.

The fully automated machine by the pavement at St Michael's Parish Church on Slateford Road is the latest to be installed under an ambitious plan.

The Presbytery of Edinburgh, working alongside St John Scotland, has invested £83,000 to buy defibrillators that are available for public use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Rev Andrea Price

Every year in Scotland around 3,500 people go into cardiac arrest and starting CPR as soon as possible, using a defibrillator where one is available, gives the person the best chance of survival.

A total of 26 congregations in the Presbytery of Edinburgh have so far installed the machines which administer a high energy electrical shock designed to return the heart back into a normal rhythm.

Rev Andrea Price, minister of St Michael's Parish Church, said: "Members of the local community use our halls for a wide variety of activities – musical events, a friendship group and Guild meetings.

"They are mainly elderly people so when we heard that the Presbytery of Edinburgh had this initiative, it was a no brainer

"I was once in a situation when an elder collapsed and sadly died and we had no access to a defibrillator which might have helped.

"The machine is mounted by the pavement outside the church and near bus stops and everyone can access it."

Accessible to all

Mrs Price said someone wanting to use the "heart starter" machine in an emergency should dial 999 and the Scottish Ambulance Service will give them a code to open the heated yellow box.

She added that CPR training will be offered to members of the congregation by St John Scotland once COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

Mrs Price paid tribute to elders at the church who were directly involved in the work to install the machine.

The Presbytery of Edinburgh plans to approach other community/faith groups in areas lacking a defibrillator to provide better coverage across the whole of the city.

Project leader, Rev Michael Mair, said: "This project reaffirms that congregations are at the heart of the communities we serve.

"We are continuing to explore how to best ensure coverage for the whole Presbytery and are engaging with our partners to ensure this life saving equipment is accessible to all.

"We are currently in discussion with New College to see if we can get one mounted on the railings for passing tourists and the General Assembly."

Clear audio and visual directions

Churches across Scotland have installed public access defibrillators such as Bridge of Allan in Stirlingshire, Kirkton in Carluke, South Lanarkshire, Dingwall in the Highlands and Stonelaw in Rutherglen.

A machine was installed outside West Kilbride Parish Church in North Ayrshire last month.

Rev James-McNay.
Rev James McNay of West Kilbride Parish Church next to the lifesaving machine.

Elder, Colin McDougall, said the congregation decided to erect the kit after an older member collapsed and died of heart failure outside the building in September last year.

The machine was bought in March but its installation was delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Mr McDougall said: "The passing of one of our members prompted us to ask 'is there something more we can do to help the whole community perhaps avoid such an outcome in the future?"

"We've not yet been able to complete training in CPR which was to be provided to 30 members of the congregation (due to COVID-19) but the defibrillator comes with clear audio and visual directions.

"It can be used by most people and currently a modified form of CPR without rescue breaths is advised."