A GROUP of Keevil residents have welcomed a piece of emergency medical equipment that could save lives in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, after unveiling the village’s first public access defibrillator.

Keevil Defibrillator Group was set up towards the end of last year by resident Suzanne Wickham, who decided it was time the village followed the lead of other Wiltshire villages and obtained its own Automated Electronic Defibrillator (AED).

The group then set about applying for funding with the help of national charity Community Heartbeat Trust, which provides cost effective defibrillators, as well as education and training support.

Funding was provided by Melksham Area Board, Keevil Society and the WI, with Keevil Parish Council agreeing to cover the cost of the consumables, such as the batteries and the pads.

Mrs Wickham said: “We have talked about getting a defibrillator for a while as lots of over villages have one, so I decided to look into it and find out about funding options in November last year.

“We started applying for funding and we also found out about Community Heartbeat Trust, which provides ongoing support and helps with all the administration side. It is a simple process and the defibrillator is an amazing piece of kit.

“The box has instructions that tell you what to do, so if someone who has not been trained to use it is thrown into a situation where it is required then they will be able to use it.

“We are a more rural area and it could possibly take an ambulance longer to reach us. Every minute counts and this crucial bit of kit could save the life of someone who suffers a sudden cardiac arrest.”

The defibrillator is located in a former telephone box in High Street, which was adopted by the parish council to house the AED, while Keevil Defibrillator Group has also joined the South Western Ambulance Service Trust’s rural defibrillator scheme.

The AED is registered with the rural policing team and the ambulance service database, so if someone calls 999 and the operator suspects a cardiac arrest, the caller will be told of its location if they are within half a mile.

Mrs Wickham added: “This is something that could benefit the whole village as a cardiac arrest could affect anyone, whether they are young or old. It is reassuring to know that it is available.

“The equipment is very easy to use and someone with no experience could do it. I have arranged for an awareness meeting for any villagers that want to find out more, so it won’t be such a shock if something did happen.”

Any villagers interested in learning more about using the defibrillator can come along to the awareness event at Keevil Village Hall in Martins Road on June 26 from 7pm.