(L – R) Lorna Hayes (head of tactical operations and community response) with the defibrillators and community response managers Jon Needle, Andrew Barlow, Alex Laurent and Tom Barker.

Vital equipment which significantly increases the chances of survival for patients who have had a cardiac arrest outside of hospital has had its life-span extended thanks to a generous legacy left to the region’s ambulance service.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has spent a total of £125,000 on replacement batteries for 1,000 defibrillators located within the community. The project has extended the life of the equipment, whose original batteries were due to expire in 2020, for a further five years.

On average, the defibrillators are called into action around 30 times a month. Most recently, a Norfolk chef used one to help save the life of a diner at his pub who had collapsed while eating in the restaurant.

The funding has come from a £135,000 legacy left to the trust by former patient Megan Carter, who was originally from Hertfordshire but lived in St Neots in Cambridgeshire when she passed away in April 2018.

Gary Morgan, deputy director of service delivery with EEAST, said: “We are very grateful to Miss Carter and delighted that we have been able to put her generous legacy to such good use by extending the life of this vital equipment.

“Around 30,000 people in the UK go into cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year. Their chances of surviving drop 10 percent a minute if treatment is delayed, with survival rates currently stand at around one in 10.

“Every second really does count, which is why it is so important to make sure as many people as possible have good access to a defibrillator within their community. It could make all the difference.”

Anyone who calls 999 and needs access to a defibrillator will be told where the nearest equipment is and given a code to open the cabinet it is housed in. They will also be given full instructions on how to use it by the call handler.

Any organisation which has a defibrillator it would like to make available to the public can register it by visiting www.eastamb.nhs.uk/your-service/campaigns/their-life-your-hands.htm You can also find out where your nearest community defibrillator is at the same link.