WOTTON-under-Edge may now be one of the safest places in the country to have a cardiac arrest, aside from hospital.

Thanks to a fundraising campaign by the Wotton Lions, there are now 14 defibrillators in the town.

A defibrillator, or defib, is a lightweight, battery-operated, portable device that checks the heart's rhythm and sends a shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. It's used to help people having sudden cardiac arrest.

Kingswood and Wotton Defib Awareness Group chair, David Owen said: “The level of support has been tremendous.

“Four defibrillators were bought are as a result of individual, personal donations.

"The money for the others has come from a very effective fundraising campaign spearheaded by the Wotton Lions and supported by the likes of the Royal Oak and our local Bowls club, rugby club, Round Table and the Kingswood Village Association.

"Generous contributions have also been received from the area’s largest employer, Renishaw, and Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School.”

"All of this work is being conducted in close collaboration with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SWAST)."

A spokesperson for the community responder department of SWAST said: “There has been a magnificent response by the community to raise funds and locate this many defibrillators.

“More than 36,000 people are treated by ambulance staff every year in England because they suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

"Basic life support and lifesaving defibrillator support needs to be delivered as soon as possible.

"For every minute that passes once in cardiac arrest, a person loses a further 10 per cent chance of survival so, considering this dramatic reduction, there is a need to have a defibrillator within four to five minutes’ walk.”

Mr Owen added: "We are already embarking on an awareness raising campaign which will cover the locations of the defibs, how to use them and, perhaps most importantly of all, we will continue to emphasise that defibs are easy to use and that you cannot harm the patient.

“There is nothing magic about what we have done here.

"It is the result of a tremendous response to a very real problem.

"If we can do it then anyone can and it would be wonderful if this could be an inspiration and act as a model for other communities across the country.”

Wotton Lions launched its defib appeal in May 2018.

"A significant event in the appeal was the regrettable death of someone in one of our local pubs from a heart attack," said Lion Pat Comer.

"This encouraged the pub to get involved and they organised a fun day which raised £1500.

"Two other pubs challenged each other to a fundraising lip-sync battle.

"And we invited the Round Table to donate a unit, to which they agreed.

"The town benefited from four personal donations. And the Lions purchased seven units.

"This amounted to a total amount of over £20,000. It's the biggest appeal we have ever done.

"The town now has access to fourteen defibs. An amazing figure for such a small town.

"All defib cabinets are on recognisable locations, such as local pubs, business, surgeries and churches."

Wotton Lions has now organised the publication, and delivery to homes in the town, of a leaflet detailing where each of the 14 defibs are.

Sara Askew, Head of Survival at the British Heart Foundation, said: “It is fantastic to hear that the town of Wotton under Edge has so many defibrillators available for its relatively small population.

“Research shows that early CPR and the use of a defibrillator can double the chance of survival from an out of hospital cardiac arrest.

“Nearby access to a defibrillator in an emergency can be the difference between life or death.

“It is therefore really important people are aware of where their nearest defibrillators are located in case there is an emergency. This is why we are launching a National Defibrillator Network later this year, linking all these life-saving machines to ambulance services so that the nearest one can be easily tracked down in a time of need.”