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Life-saving role for village 'phone box

14 December 2018

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Ingham's redundant telephone kiosk is now home to a life-saving defibrillator, thanks to a dedicated campaign by the family of an Ingham man who died following a cardiac arrest.

Billy Hicklin, a previously fit 6’7” self-employed builder, collapsed at work in April 2012. Despite CPR Billy’s life could not be saved but there may have been a different outcome if a defibrillator had been available.

After a cardiac arrest – which isn’t the same as a heart attack – a defibrillator delivers an electrical pulse which restarts the heart. But fast treatment is essential so having a device close at hand can be a life-saver. The facts are stark: No early intervention = 5% survival; CPR alone = 9% survival; early defibrillation + CPR = 50% survival.

Following his death, Billy’s family - his wife Rosemary who lives in Culford Road, and sons Paul and Jay - began a fund-raising campaign to provide defibrillators for the local community. Together with the support of Billy’s friends the campaign has now placed nine defibrillators – with more on the way.

Billy had lived in Ingham for most of his life and was well known and also a regular in the darts team at the Cadogan Arms. He started his working life at Stennett’s farm so his family wanted to do something in his memory and get a defibrillator placed in the village where he spent much of his life.

Along with many of his friends in the darts community, the family have held many fundraising evenings and also a 24-hour darts marathon.

Paul explained that a defibrillator has to be checked fortnightly, which he does, but also every two years (or when it is used) the battery and pads have to be replaced.

Said Paul, “We currently fund this ourselves but would be open to receiving donations! A battery and a new set of pads currently costs £180.

“All the defibrillators we have installed are registered with the East of England Ambulance Service so when someone calls 999 they would be directed to the telephone box and given the code to the key cabinet so they can access the defibrillator and take it to the casualty.

“Once the defibrillator is open and in position all you need to do is follow the spoken instructions, the defibrillator detects the heart’s rhythm so it will not deliver a shock unless one is needed. If any of our machines are used the ambulance service lets me know so that I can either collect it from them or if it has been taken back to the cabinet then I go and check the battery life and replace the pads.”

The former ‘phone box was purchased by the Parish Council for £1 following the kiosk’s decommission by BT and cleaned and repainted by volunteers.

The box is illuminated so is visible at night to pedestrians and passing motorists.

Find out more about defibrillators and what to do in an emergency here