“Someone has collapsed, we need a defibrillator” is the message no Run Director ever wants to here over the Walkie Talkies. But what if there wasn’t a defibrillator nearby? What if no one present felt confident in using the defibrillator? What if there were flaws in the emergency protocols?
Luckily, this is no longer the case at Rogiet. Local businesses and organisations, such as Nathan James Estate Agents, Hoggin the Bridge and Magor Churchmen as well as the Rogiet Regulars, raised almost £1,000 to fund ‘Frank’ our very own defibrillator. The name was decided through a parkrunner vote with the aim of making more people aware of it and less fearful of using it.
The defibrillator was obtained through the important charity Welsh Hearts, which also provide training and support in CPR and the use of defibrillators. They held a very successful CPR training event at Caldicot Leisure Centre recently which 29 parkrunners attended. One thing people who undertook the training discovered is that, while using the defib might seem scary, it is actually very straightforward. The defib gives you step by step instructions and most importantly it will not provide a shock if the patient doesn’t need one. A short video showing how to use the defib can be found here.
Due to the ease of use and also as a result of becoming aware of the work of June Thomas, whose son Jack died of a cardiac arrest, we have changed the way we promote the role of the ‘defib marshal’. Public access defibs don’t require training so we no longer ask for ‘trained’ marshals for this role instead we ask ‘Who wants to marshal with Frank?’. We ask for people who feel confident to undertake this role and we share the link on the operation of our defib and CPR techniques to all the volunteers each week so they can familiarise themselves with it.
Thanks to the votes of the community, we have also recently secured some funding from Tesco and Waitrose. We plan to use some of this money to buy spare defibrillator pads.
To date there have been three incidents at Welsh parkruns that have required the use of a defibrillator. In all cases it has been used successfully and the casualty has survived, but in all cases the event teams have learnt important lessons about their emergency procedures. At the latest incident at Barry Island parkrun the event team kindly shared their advice with other teams which we have taken on board. One aspect of this was for the event team to hold a training exercise. While you can talk about what you would do many times over there is nothing like a dry run!
We organised one a few weeks ago. Thanks to all the parkrunners who stayed behind after their 5km to run a bit more and help with this test run, it went really well. We timed our response to simulate in real life how long it would take for paramedics to arrive. We had a vehicle standing by in the village, and actually drove it to the park with lights flashing to simulate an ambulance arriving. We assessed the quality of instruction from the marshal, the location information being given to the 'call operator' and how long it took for the defibrillator to arrive with the casualty. We learnt some important lessons and it led to some improvements in how we plan to communicate and respond in an emergency situation.
All this puts us in a great position to deal with such an event should it happen. We can only hope that the situation never arises but at least if we do hear the message “Someone has collapsed. We need Frank.” we know that Frank will be nearby and the volunteers are ready and practised in how to respond to help our fellow parkrunner.