The Blog

Putting Defibrillators in London's Phone Boxes Us a Good Call

Putting defibrillators in London's phone boxes has the potential to hundreds of lives across the capital every year.

In 2014/15, London Ambulance Service dealt with 10,211 cardiac arrests. Despite LAS having one of the best performance ratings in the country, the survival rate remained as low as nine per cent.

My latest report, Never Miss a Beat, outlines the fact defibrillators dramatically increase the chances of a patient surviving a serious cardiac event.

Quick access to one of the devices at the scene takes the chances of restarting the patient's heart to 76 per cent and doubles their chances of survival from 27 to 58 per cent.

For every minute the patient fails to receive any treatment however, their chances of survival decrease by 20-23 per cent.

It is clear then that immediate access to defibrillators, even before the ambulance service can respond, is vital in such an emergency.

With this in mind, my report calls for the widespread implementation of defibrillators in phone boxes - highly accessible and easy-to-spot locations across London.

Through the existing 'Adopt a Kiosk' scheme, operated by BT, communities can purchase deregistered phone boxes for just £1.

Cardiac arrest charity, the Community Heartbeat Trust, will then co-ordinate the installation of a defibrillator.

The devices are stored in a highly secure container which can only be accessed with a PIN number given over the phone by the emergency services.

The intelligent machines cannot be misused as they only deliver a shock if they cannot detect a heart rate in the patient.

There are countless miraculous examples of defibrillators saving people from the brink of death. Installing these life-savers in many more highly-accessible locations across London will doubtless save lives as well as helping to preserve the iconic red phone box.

In addition to increasing the public's access to life-saving defibrillators, we also need to increase the number of people who feel confident to use them and deliver CPR in the event of a cardiac arrest.

Many people feel understandably reticent at the prospect of having to intervene at the scene of a cardiac arrest. We need to implement policies to change this attitude to lead to more lives being saved.

I will be pushing the Mayor of London to adopt this approach and make a real difference to cardiac arrest survival rates in the capital.