Thirteen more defibrillators have been installed across County Durham and Darlington in a scheme launched after the repeated vandalism of life-saving equipment.  

Durham Constabulary’s Shocking Behaviour initiative – a project aimed at boosting the number of Community Public Access Defibrillators (cPADs) across the county and providing educational training to young people on their purpose - has installed a further 13 defibrillators with PCC Joy Allen's support. 

The scheme was launched after a defibrillator attached to Brandon Community Hall was repeatedly vandalised by local youths – despite being used 15 times since its installation in 2019.

The local beat team worked with Brandon Welfare Hall and the president of the Durham Rotary One Life North East Initiative, Tom Sharples, to look at ways to educate young people about the life-saving equipment to prevent ASB.

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Following the sessions, all attacks on the equipment stopped. 

As a result, Commissioner Allen agreed to fund cPADs and associated equipment across 13 Police Section Offices and Main Offices across the Constabulary’s estate.

As part of the project, Neighbourhood Policing Teams are also now working with heart charity Red Sky Foundation to roll out wider educational training to primary school pupils to increase their understanding of the life-saving equipment and deliver basic first aid training and awareness.

The charity’s mission is to improve the lives of people needing cardiac care who are born with or develop heart conditions by providing lifelong support to them and their families through grants, equipment and awareness.

Commissioner Allen said: “I am proud to support this initiative which will ensure many more people receive the urgent medical care they need to survive.

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“This project was the first of its kind across County Durham and Darlington and is a shining example of how problem-solving between multiple partners can positively benefit the community, adding an extra layer of resilience to different generations.

“One of the strengths of this project is the way it empowers young people themselves to play an active role in the safety of their community by learning important first aid skills and how to correctly use a defibrillator. This knowledge could serve them and their community well in the future.”

PCSO Nicholas Laverick, from Durham Constabulary’s Prevention and Problem-Solving Team, added: “This project will have an incredible and long-term impact upon the public, as not only will we be increasing the amount of publicly accessible life-saving equipment into our local communities, but we will also be able to educate local primary school children about the importance of this equipment, as well as providing them with some training around the equipment.”

The RedSky Foundation, which recently supported an employee of the force while his daughter awaited and successfully underwent a heart transplant, generously agreed to provide the cases needed to protect the defibrillators and has agreed to provide primary school education and training sessions.

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A cPAD is a defibrillator that is available to members of the public, 24 hours a day, to use in a life-threatening emergency. 

The machines have been registered with the ambulance service and in the event of an emergency, a caller will be told where the nearest defibrillator is and asked if someone can retrieve it. If the cabinet is locked, then the caller will be given the access code.

If a defibrillator is used to help someone in cardiac arrest survive, the chance of surviving jumps from six per cent to 74 per cent if it is deployed within three minutes.