How do you value a human life? Dorset Freemasons get to the heart of the matter!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Dorset's bighearted lifesaving initiative

On Wednesday 18th July, the official unveiling of the first of the planned 17 automated external defibrillators (AED’s) to be provided outside each of the 17 masonic meeting halls throughout Dorset over the next two months, took place at the Masonic Hall in Howard’s Lane, Wareham.

With a valued contribution from the Grand Charity, and substantially through the auspices of the Province of Dorset’s own charity Dorset Masonic Care, and in conjunction with Arrhythmia Alliance, Dorset has now financed the purchase and installation of these publicly available and easily accessible life-saving pieces of equipment in commemoration of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and as part of their Freemasonry in the Community initiative.

Pictured here with the Mayor of Wareham, Councillor Keith Green, at the official unveiling of the AED outside the Wareham Masonic Hall, the Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, RW Bro Richard Merritt, said 'We are very conscious of the fact that we are providing a facility for our local communities which, in a bizarre way, we would hope would never need to be used'.

'They can and do, however, save lives, and should the need ever arise it is our profound hope that this equipment will do just that'. After the official unveiling, speaking on behalf of the people of Wareham, the Mayor said 'We are indebted to the Freemasons of Dorset for providing this equipment and I have great pleasure in declaring this facility open and readily available to the people of Wareham'.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) strikes without warning, killing 100,000 people in the UK every year – that’s 250 people a day. In the UK, less than 5% of victims survive SCA out of hospital and it kills more people than lung cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. SCA can happen to anyone, regardless of age or fitness. SCA could happen in a shopping centre, on a football field, whilst out walking the dog; it can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. Combined with CPR, defibrillation is the only effective treatment.

The 40 or so guests at the launch held in the masonic meeting room - which included the Lady Mayoress, Mrs Vera Green, the Town Clerk, Mr Rod Curtis, a number of Council dignitaries, Dorset Masonic Care executive members and local Freemasons and their wives - heard a very informative talk accompanied with video presentations from Peter Wray-Cook, Clinical Support Officer with the NHS, SW Ambulance Service. He stressed the need for the public to 'have a go' in the event that someone needs urgent, first intervention before the emergency service arrived on the scene.

'Every minute is vital and the use of this equipment, which gives clear verbal instructions through its built-in, fully automated monitoring system, actually talks the user through the vital CPR [chest compressions] and advises when and if and how to apply a shock to the patient’s heart, providing the emergency services with a huge advantage and far greater chance of saving a life when we arrive on the scene'.

This installation, now fully operational, requires a 999 call to be made to access the equipment. It is to be rapidly followed by similar installations at the masonic halls in Beaminster, Blandford, Branksome, Bridport, Dorchester, Gillingham, Kinson, Lyme Regis, Poole, Portland, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Sturminster Newton, Swanage, Weymouth and Wimborne.

Speaking on behalf of Arrhythmia Alliance, Trudie Lobban said, 'This is the largest single donation of this life-saving equipment by any organisation in the UK'.

'The extremely generous donation to A-A made by the Freemasons of Dorset will ensure life-saving equipment is available in the Dorset area'.

'In the event of an SCA the first few minutes are vital – for every minute without defibrillation, chances of survival decrease by 10%. With all the best intentions, it is often impossible for emergency services to reach a patient within the required timeframe (due to location, distance and/or traffic congestion). It is paramount that emergency life-saving equipment is made available and accessible for public use until emergency services arrive on scene'.

Bournemouth mayor Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts said: ‘We are truly indebted to the Freemasons of Dorset for this magnificent gift to the local community.’

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