THE LIFE-SAVING efforts of local councillors who launched a network of defibrillators across Saddleworth have been recognised with a top award.
Oldham and Saddleworth Liberal Democrats received the Cardiac Smart Award from North West Ambulance Service for helping to save people who have suffered a cardiac arrest.
Liberal Democrat councillors Garth Harkness, Derek Heffernan and Alan Roughley led the project to get 24-hour defibrillators in every village, supported by Oldham Council and the community.
There are now more than a dozen defibrillators across Saddleworth, with the last one at Springhead Community Centre to be installed soon, and each is clearly signposted.
Cllr Harkness, who collected the award at a ceremony in Leyland, said: “It is a great privilege to be receiving such an award which needs to be shared with community groups and volunteers across Saddleworth.
“I want to pay tribute to our Saddleworth and Lees District team, the public health department at Oldham Council and fellow councillors for passing a motion to make Oldham Council more resilient in helping people who suffer a cardiac arrest.
“Working together we have improved the odds in our area of surviving a cardiac arrest. Community spirit made this happen.”
Cllr Heffernan, who was last year’s Mayor of Oldham, added: “We are pleased to see so many defibrillators accessible across the borough 24 hours – an example that other areas hopefully will follow.
“The guardians who check them each week are a vital part in ensuring we have good coverage.”
Outside hospital, cardiac arrests in the UK see less than a 10 per cent survival rate but that is improved if patients have quick access to a defibrillator.
The defibrillators are housed in locked cabinets but can be accessed by anyone at any time with a code supplied by emergency services over the phone.
The defibrillators can be used with no prior training as they provides clear audio instructions and carry out the procedure itself, but defib and CPR training sessions are ongoing locally.
In February, the North West Ambulance Service “wholeheartedly” apologised after locals were unable to access public defibrillators during two emergency incidents in January.
Locals could not be given a code to open the defibrillator boxes as 999 operators couldn’t find them on their system – the issue has since been addressed.
24-hour defibrillator locations in Saddleworth:
Austerlands: The Three Crowns Pub
Delph: Delph Library, Holland Close Housing and Care 21
Denshaw: Denshaw Village Hall
Diggle: Diggle Nursery
Dobcross: Telephone Box Village Square and Ladcastle Road (led by Dobcross Community Association)
Friezland: Christ Church Friezland Church Hall
Greenfield: Tame Valley Tennis and Squash Club, The Satellite Centre
Grotton: Lido House, Housing and Care 21
Lydgate: The White Hart
Lees: Lees Library
Scouthead: Old Original
Springhead: Community Centre
Uppermill: Civic Hall