Calls for life-saving defibrillator to be installed at Hartlepool Marina after choking death

Hartlepool Marina.

Hartlepool Marina.

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Calls have been made for life-saving equipment to be installed at one of the town’s busiest spots.

Residents and business owners are hoping to see a defibrillator placed at Hartlepool Marina.

Middleton Grange shopping centre boss Mark Rycraft

Middleton Grange shopping centre boss Mark Rycraft

It comes after a man died after choking during a visit.

Robert Welch, 67, was taken by helicopter to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough in a critical condition on Monday, May 16.

The dad-of-two, from Hartlepool, who had dementia, later passed away.

While it can not be said that a defibrillator could have been used to save his life, the incident led to people realising there is not a defibrillator available int he area and it would be beneficial to have one in place in the hope of preventing further tragedies.

A defibrillator is a device that delivers a therapeutic dose of electrical current to the heart.

Pauline McLoughlin was visiting Hartlepool from Thirsk, along with a friend, when she ran to Robert’s aid.

The 53-year-old, who is originally from Australia, is a trained first aider and said she ran when she heard people shouting for help.

She said: “I was quite shocked that there wasn’t a defibrillator at the marina, or if there is one, nobody could find it.

“People can use the to bring patients back quicker rather than doing chest compressions, which often break people’s ribs.

“I was speaking to a call handler who was talking me through what to do and if she’d said to use a defibrillator, I’m trained to do that and could have used it.

“A girl went looking for one and couldn’t find one anywhere. I imagine the marina gets very busy, especially in the summer, and I’m so surprised that there isn’t a defibrillator there.

“If someone has a heart attack or a stroke, it could mean the difference between life and death.”

Joe Darragh, boss at Mandale, which owns land and units at Navigation Point, said he would welcome a defibrillator at the spot.

He said: “I’m really sad to hear what’s happened. In the 15 to 17 years we’ve been at the marina nobody has ever mentioned anything about us needing a defibrillator but now that something like this has happened I’d be more than happy to support a drive for us to have one there.

“If it can make a difference then I’m all for it.”

Shaun Houghton-Birrell, manager of Hartlepool Marine Ltd, added: “We had a defibrillator on site supplied by the North East Ambulance Trust that was based in the lock office about 15 years ago.

“It was moved from the lock office to the call centre Garlands when it was opened because of the number of staff that were based there. I don’t know what happened to it after that.”

He added: “We would be quite happy to house a defibrillator in our office, which is open 24 hours, and our staff are trained to use one.”

North East Ambulance Service’s head of emergency care, Douglas McDougall, said: “If a person is suffering cardiac arrest, the more quickly they receive treatment, the better. It is estimated that for every minute a person is left untreated, their chance of survival decreases by 14 percent. 
“Early CPR can make all the difference to a patient’s survival, followed by early defibrillation and then early access to advanced life support, which can be provided by paramedics.

“All ambulances, rapid response vehicles and operational managers carry a defibrillator, however, the process can begin whilst the ambulance is travelling to the scene.

“We regularly call upon over 140 community public access defibrillators that are registered with us across the north east and we routinely ask callers if there is a defibrillator at the scene of an incident in case there is one available that we aren’t aware of.

“We work closely with people who want to install a defibrillator in their community to encourage regular upkeep and maintenance and offer support with training people who may need to access it.

“We welcome the implementation of defibrillators anywhere in the North East and encourage anyone considering it to let us know so that we can support them with training and register them as a resource to call upon for patients when their life is at risk.”

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “This was a tragic accident and we would like to offer our sincere condolences.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with landowners at Hartlepool Marina and other interested parties to explore the possibility of installing a defibrillator.”

Mark Rycraft, manager at the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, who helped set up the group Defibs 4 Hartlepool, said the equipment would make a difference to a lot of people.

He said: “A defibrillator costs about £700 to put in and that’s just for the unit. If it needs to be in a public place where anyone can access it, it costs about another £700 for the box to house it in which has a code that the ambulance service have.

“It would absolutely be beneficial to have one at the marina, without a doubt. Every public place should have a defibrillator.

“If one was installed it wouldn’t just benefit the people visiting the marina but also those residents who like nearby.”