Rural defibrillators up and running.

We did it!

Following Foxy Ladies fundraising efforts at The First ever Cissbury Ring Marathon Relay 2021 we were delighted to raise enough money to buy two defibrillators through Sussex Heart Charity’s grant scheme. The grant, once approved, means your organisation contributes for the cost of the defibrillator and in return you receive a heated defib outer case, a Heartsine AED and AED familiarisation training for 10 people with Pulse South Coast We were really grateful to be able to apply and be approved for two defibs through this scheme.

The Cissbury Marathon Relay event

In Loving memory

The fundraising was done by the members of Foxy Ladies Running Club, both adult and youth squad. It was in memory of Nick Votta, life partner of one of our dear long-term members Sam Merrick. Nick’s life was sadly taken too soon when he suffered a cardiac arrest in June 2021. Nick was a valued and respected member of the Findon Valley Community who loved walking up Cissbury Ring all year round.

Nick Votta

It was important to both Sam and the ladies of the club to try to get a defib in this area not only for sentimental reasons but as it is so widely used by members of the public and the nearest one was located at Lime Tree Surgery. We wanted to ensure if required it was in an accessible spot used by hikers, dog walkers, runners and mountain bikers.

A lengthy process

In November we took delivery of the two defibrillators and work had already begun in earnest working with local authorities to secure and approve locations and work out logistics, protecting the defibs and their all important battery life.

Receiving the defibs

Many months of administrative work followed in order to get the defibs placed in these rural locations. Permissions were needed from Adur & Worthing Council for defib 1, now located in Storringtion Rise Car Park and from the National Trust for defib 2, located on the south side of Cissbury ring. We also worked hard to source electricity in these areas but to no avail and were then advised they could be kept in medical insulation bags which would protect the four year battery life. The sourcing of the bags to fit the cases required time and patience as did the alterations to the cases to remove electrics and obstructions that may impact the construction of the specialist bags.

Finally in February, the post went up followed by the defib case in March. Defib 1 is now live in Storrington rise car park and we pass our thanks to Council Ranger Graeme Brooker for making this happen. Two weeks later and Defib 2 has been installed and is live up at Cissbury, put in by National Trust Ranger for the area Graham Welfare. Again we are really grateful to him and the National Trust for giving their time to fix this up.

Council ranger Graeme installing defib 1 in Storrington Rise

His heart beats on

As you can imagine both occasions have been very moving and emotional for Sam and her family and the members of club who are delighted to see what their running and fundraising have achieved. As Sam placed the battery in the defib and the light started to flash she felt like it was Nick’s heart beat living on. A plaque in loving memory of Nick will be placed with defib 2 and Sam thinks he would feel very honoured and humbled to know that he has a special place up at Cissbury and his name rests with something so positive.

I am aware had we gone for the easier option of the defibs being placed somewhere accessible to electricity (outside of a building and wired into electrics) this would have been much more straightforward and they could have been up in a few days. I do hope this does not discourage anyone from installing a defib in future and hopefully now people will look to install them in rural areas ….as we now know this is possible!

CPR Training

During March approximately 60 club members received CPR and AED familiarisation over 5 separate evenings and from two different training providers. We now feel more informed and confident should we ever be the first on scene and need to perform CPR and use a defib. Our thanks go to Sally Holmes a community first responder with Secamb in Rustington and Craig Sharples from Pulse South Coast for sharing their invaluable skills and knowledge.

We hope no one ever has to use them but at least there is a little peace of mind to know there are some in the area if we ever do.

Public Response

We have all ready received messages of thanks from local residents and members of the public, grateful that they now have these vital pieces of equipment in their local vicinity. Some have also told us they have now booked into defib training too which is just brilliant.

Specific Defib Locations

Defib 1 – Storrington Rise Car Park, Storrington Rise, Worthing, BN14 0HT . What 3 words location “similar.correctly.canyons” Directions on left hand side of car park entrance.

Defib 2 – Cissbury Ring, Agricultural land Mount Carvey, nr Cissbury Ring. What 3 words location “initiated.shuttled.steps” Directions near fingerpost in middle of grass area the grid reference for TQ138075.

Special Thanks

To Sam and her family for investing time, energy and emotion into this at such a difficult time in their lives.

To all the members of Foxy Ladies Running Club who gave so generously with their donations and time to the event, raising enough money to provide these life saving pieces of equipment.

To Terry and his team at Sussex Heart Charity, Dan and Graham at the National Trust and Graeme at the council.

Thank you to Sue and Ian Hart for the venue for the defib training.

Huge thanks to Sally Holmes and Craig Sharples for the CPR & AED familiarisation.

The biggest thanks go to Jenny Blower for stepping up right at the beginning to help, working hard with me to see this project right through to the end, you are an absolute star.

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