22 December 2015 – Merseyside Prison Gets Life-Saving Defibrillators

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has provided defibrillators and training to HMP Kennet in Merseyside to help save lives in the event of someone suffering from a cardiac arrest.

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Picture: HMP Kennet Deputy Governor Robbie Durgan receiving the defibrillators from NWAS Community Resuscitation Development Officer Rob Sharples.

Ten defibrillators have been installed in blocks across the prison and their Physical Education Officer Andy McCarthy was trained in an NWAS HeartStart course. Taking his training forward, Andy has now equipped 26 staff and 350 of those in custody in how to use the defibrillators.  

HMP Kennet is the first prison in the country to achieve such a high level of defibrillator in house training for both staff and offenders. A sudden cardiac arrest is fatal in 95 per cent of cases, but rapid use of a defibrillator can be life-saving.

Defibrillators can be used to check a person's heart rhythm and increase the chances of survival for a person who has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest by 40 per cent. If the rhythm indicates a cardiac arrest, the defibrillator sends an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm.

NWAS Community Resuscitation Development Officer Rob Sharples, who took the initial training session at the prison, said: “It’s fantastic to hear so many staff and those in custody have now been trained in how to use a defibrillator.

“In the event of a person suffering from a cardiac arrest, quick actions must be taken in order to ensure the patient has the best possible chance of survival. When someone suffers a cardiac arrest the chance of survival decreases by up to 14 per cent for every minute that passes without intervention. Effective CPR and using a defibrillator ensures the patient has the best chance of survival.”

“Andy McCarthy has done an excellent job in extending the training to so many at the prison – I’ve no doubt lives will be saved as a result of his efforts.”

Robbie Durgan, Governor HMP Kennet, said: “After discussing my concerns about the prison community being hard to reach, in terms of response and access, I explored different options with NWAS. The end result was far better than I imagined. Thanks to the partnership between Kennet and NWAS we have had the opportunity to teach staff and offenders vital new skills. I am confident that if a member of anyone’s family or a friend visits, lives or works in the prison, this equipment is in place to save their lives in the event of an emergency.”