A few months ago the Freemasons of Dorset determined to install automated external defibrillator (AED) machines outside or near to all of the places where they meet as part of their Freemasonry in the Community initiative, and as a tribute to the Her Majesty the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year. There are 17 such masonic meeting places throughout Dorset.
It was intended that this life-saving equipment would be readily available for members of the public to use in cases of emergency, as well as for their own members. The equipment is conveniently located at points accessible to the public in a highly visible green cabinet, with notices high up on a nearby wall, and with a bright green light displayed during the hours of darkness. Emergency access is obtained by calling the ambulance service using the emergency 999 number and receiving the access code to the equipment. The AED is then easily portable and can be used by untrained people under instruction from ambulance control over the telephone or, if necessary, by automated instruction from the machine itself.
One such device is located outside the Heritage Suite in Bell Street, Shaftesbury, and one morning recently a lady collapsed with a suspected cardiac arrest in the nearby county library. As the emergency call was made, ambulance control advised where the equipment was located and provided the caller with its release code. A member of staff was dispatched to collect the device, which was then speedily released from its storage box, transported to the scene of the emergency and unpacked ready for use.
The rapid arrival of the emergency services and their successful resuscitation of the patient meant that the AED was not required to administer a shock on this occasion, and the equipment was returned unused to await the next emergency. A man who viewed the whole incident was glowing in his praise for the availability of the equipment, saying: 'This is going to save a life one of these days, what a good job someone thinks about these things.'
On hearing about the incident the Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, Richard Merritt, said 'This is an example of how our Province-wide initiative was intended to work and it is gratifying to learn that the Shaftesbury machine, installed less than 6 weeks ago, has already been seen to be available as a most valuable and timely service to the community at large.'