A POTENTIALLY life-saving defibrillator outside Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s airbase at Semington, near Melksham, is now available for public use 24/7.

The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can be used if someone nearby suffers a cardiac arrest and their heart needs an electric shock to re-start it.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating and the AED delivers an electric shock to restart the heart.

The AED is in a cabinet outside the main gates to the charity’s airbase at Outmarsh, Semington.

The machine can be used by people without medical training, as it gives instructions of what to do.

Kevin Reed, head of facilities and security at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “Our mission is to save lives so we are really pleased to have an AED available for public use in an emergency situation.”

“Whilst we have highly-trained paramedics, they are not always at the airbase due to attending incidents elsewhere or when the airbase is closed.

“There is a reasonable amount of footfall with local people walking by, including workers at nearby industrial estates, and also people walking to and from Melksham to access the Kennet and Avon Canal.”

The AED has been supplied by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASfT).

It is registered on the Trust’s 999 control system, so call handlers can direct people to it during a cardiac arrest situation.

Julia Doel, Assistant Community Responder Officer at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Having an AED outside Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s airbase will benefit the public.

“The first few minutes of a cardiac arrest are absolutely crucial, so having access to a defibrillator is extremely important and plays a huge part in getting people the care they need immediately, while the ambulance is en-route, and giving them the best possible chance of survival.

“AED’s are purposely easy to use. Anyone can use them – the machines themselves talk you through what to do and that, alongside advice from our emergency call handlers, means that anyone can help to save a life.

“Cardiac arrest does not discriminate against age, gender or fitness – it can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

“It can be caused by many things, including heart attacks, strokes and major trauma, and early defibrillation for patients in cardiac arrest can make all the difference to the outcome.”

There is also an AED inside the airbase.