SEVEN new defibrillators have been installed in a Tyne Valley village and another is soon on its way.

In 2014, Stocksfield Parish Council was impressed by representatives of the Stephen Carey Fund, named after a 21-year-old Northumberland man who tragically died whilst playing football in 2012. The fund’s aim is to install Public Access Defibrillators (PAD).

Over 45 were provided in the fund's first two years and in late 2014, the organisation assisted the council to install their first two PADs at Stocksfield Sports Fields and Stocksfield Golf Club.

PADs are registered with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS); they can be deployed by a health advisor in a life threatening emergency and where there is a PAD within 500m of the incident.

Early treatment with a PAD significantly increases the chances of survival from cardiac arrest.

No training is required to operate a PAD although CPR should also be performed.

In 2019, the council reviewed its coverage of PADs in the knowledge that more than three quarters of cardiac arrests which occur other than in a hospital setting happen in a person’s home.

The council realised it had - unwittingly - created a postcode lottery for PADs – a cardiac arrest in a house in one street could result in deployment of a PAD, whilst the same incident at the immediate neighbour would not (because it was more than 500m from the PAD).

The council commissioned further work and began to make financial provision from existing funds as well as committing funds from future financial years. The remit was to provide coverage for all houses within the predominantly built up areas and prevent the situation where one house would be covered by a PAD but the immediate adjoining neighbour would not.

As all outdoor PAD cabinets need a power supply, this provided some logistical issues to resolve. The Covid-19 pandemic also impacted the speed of delivery but the council has since installed seven additional PADs around its area with a further PAD due to be installed at Broomley in the near future.

Once the final PAD is activated, almost 97 per cent of the houses within the council’s area will be within 500m of a PAD, each of which will be available permanently for deployment by NEAS 24 hours a day.

The additional PADs installed at Stocksfield has now taken the number available across NEAS' area to over 900.

Significantly, when looking at Stocksfield, there is no other comparable area within the region where a council has systematically planned a network of PADs that provides such wide coverage to houses across its area. Stocksfield Parish Council has 1,335 houses in an area covering almost seven square miles.

Funding for the £22,000 project has been provided from varying sources, including Northumberland County Council's members scheme and Essity and the parish council's own funds. However, Lucy Booth, a resident and working GP, instigated and co-ordinated fund-raising in the Painshawfield Estate of the village, raising nearly £5,000.

The council’s chair Maggi Hunt said: “We are very pleased and proud to be one of the first local councils in the county to offer such comprehensive potentially life-saving defibrillator coverage, and we’re really grateful to those who have helped us to pay for it.”

Alex Mason, community resuscitation officer for NEAS added: “It has been fantastic to work with Stocksfield Parish Council and its clerk, Nick Spencer, in increasing the number of public access defibrillators.

"They have succeeded in providing access to a defibrillator for practically everyone in their area in the event of a life-threatening emergency, and once Covid-19 restrictions begin to change, we look forward to delivering familiarisation sessions to the community on how to do CPR, and how to access and use the defibrillators, so that people have the confidence to try to save a life.”

PAD locations: Stocksfield Sports Fields (pre-existing), Stocksfield Golf Club, (pre-existing), Stocksfield Community Centre, St John’s Church, Main Road (A695) at Branch End Play Area, Birkdene near the junction with Welton Close, New Ridley Road at the junction with Meadowfield Road, Ridley Mill Road, Ridley Mill, B6309 at Hindley and C273 road, Broomley (yet to be installed).