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MSc student leads AED campaign

29 April 2014

Phil Hill and defibrillator
Phil Hill and his defibrillator

MSc Advanced Practice student Phil Hill, as a result of his campaign for legislation to make heart defibrillators available in every public place in Wales, was invited to give a presentation to the Senedd Petitions Committee this morning.

Phil, who is currently undertaking the Non-Medical Prescribing pathway on the MSc in Advanced Practice, has had a professional interest in public access to defibrillators for 20 years. His dissertation has involved developing a survey to examine public awareness of CPR and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), and as a result of this submitted an online petition to the Welsh Assembly calling for new AED legislation for Wales.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board nurse Mr Hill gave his presentation at the Senedd this morning in the company of June Thomas, whose son Jack died suddenly from an underlying heart problem two years ago.

The petition is to request Welsh legislation making AED availability in public places a legal requirement, just like fire extinguishers – and Phil wants the legislation to be named Jack's Law.

As Phil explains, in the UK 60,000 people a year will suffer an Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA). Such incidents have a survival rate of less than 12%. The sooner a defibrillator is used to re-start the heart the more likely the victim will survive. Early defibrillation has been described as a "crucial stage" in this sequence of events, and chances of survival are said to diminish as much as 10% every 60 seconds if it is delayed. AEDs have been specifically designed and developed for use by the public, and in the last 20 years have been installed in many public places. Phil is concerned that the level of awareness of existing devices remains low.

"How tragic would it be if someone died from a reversible cause in the first few minutes and yet there was a nearby AED locked away or not well signposted?" he says.

The Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee has become interested in Phil's petition as a result of feedback they have received from service providers in Wales on their public access AED provision.

Phil also credits the "sudden explosion of interest" after the successful resuscitation of footballer Fabrice Muamba on a football pitch with contributing to the increasing profile of his campaign.

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