A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) defibrillator has been officially launched in a Cornish seaside town, as a legacy to a local man who died in the place he loved most of all.
Graham Anthony, 71, had a cardiac arrest during a visit to Readymoney Cove in Fowey with his wife in October 2017.
Emergency services personnel – including SWASFT paramedics – carried out treatment on Graham from Callington near Liskeard, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The defibrillator, which is registered with SWASFT, was officially commissioned during a special ceremony at Readymoney on Thursday 15 February – during which Graham’s wife Angela gave a short address.
Angela, a retired NHS nurse, said: “I am so grateful to those people who came to our aid, including two nurses on holiday who helped with CPR and passers-by who helped Graham get out of his wheelchair. The paramedics, Coastguard, RNLI, Air Ambulance, the GP, and the Police were all magnificent. Paul Kimberley, the Specialist Paramedic, exhibited a special degree of professionalism and compassion. You all tried so hard to save him.
“Thank you so much to the people of Fowey for their generosity, especially Victoria Clarke who worked so hard to get this device implemented.
“Graham would’ve been so happy that some good has come out of his death. This is a legacy to him. Fowey was his favourite place in the world.
“I hope this defibrillator is never needed. But if there is an emergency this could save a life, and that’s what matters the most.”
A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest.
Paul Kimberley said: “From a tragedy has come this legacy in memory of Graham’s life. Readymoney Cove was his favourite place in the world. This life-saving piece of equipment will reduce the risk of this happening to other people. It is a fitting tribute to him.”
Local shop owner, Victoria Clarke, spearheaded a campaign to raise £1,600 for a public defibrillator beside the sandy beach. She also paid for the device to be installed on the wall by her café.
Victoria said: “It was a tragic event to happen. Although there were several public access defibrillators in Fowey, none of them were sufficiently close enough to be of assistance on that day.
“The local community in Fowey was really shocked by what happened. Readymoney is an iconic place that is important to a lot of people. It’s more than just a beach.
“So the fundraising campaign resonated strongly with residents and tourists. The response was phenomenal – donations kept coming in, and we reached the target very quickly.
“It was desperately sad that Graham lost his life, but having a defibrillator on site provides hope that should such an incident occur in the future, loss of life could potentially be avoided.”
Local charity Coast Medic installed the defibrillator and registered it with SWASFT.
Founder Luke Tudor, who is a SWASFT paramedic, said: “There are many remote locations in Cornwall, which are challenging for ambulances to reach quickly. But having a public access defibrillator in place is another way of ensuring a quick response to a cardiac arrest incident.”
Since the Readymoney defibrillator was installed in January, funds have been raised for another device at Fowey Gallants sailing club.
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. Each year in the UK around 30,000 people are treated for a cardiac arrest outside of hospital.
Only around 1 in 10 people survive to return home, but public access defibrillators can make a critical difference to the chances of survival.