A campaign has been launched to teach life-saving skills to people in four coastal communities in North Wales.
Colwyn Business Improvement District has funded a network of nine defibrillators in Old Colwyn, Colwyn Bay, Mochdre and Rhos-on-Sea.
The BID is a business-led not-for-profit social enterprise organisation working to improve the Bay of Colwyn district by helping to attract greater footfall and encouraging investment into the local area.
The defibrillators, which are stored in public places and are available to members of the public 24/7, can make the difference between life or death for people who suffer cardiac arrest.
The first free training session at Old Colwyn Community Centre, Greenhill Road, attracted would-be life-savers from across the area.
BID members and their employees have already attended training sessions.
There are more sessions planned at Old Colwyn Community Centre on Monday, March 11, and the Station pub, Station Road, Colwyn Bay, on April 10, between 6pm and 8pm on both occasions.
According to Colwyn BID manager Cheryl Williams, the defibrillators will prove to be a valuable asset to the area.
She said: “We have recently installed nine public access defibrillators (PADs) registered in Colwyn Bay, Old Colwyn, Mochdre and Rhos-on-sea and we need to ensure the community is aware they are there and how they work. The more people trained in the use of defibrillators, the better.
“All are attached to the outside wall of BID members’ businesses. We want to see even more defibrillators and more people trained how to use them.
“The cost of installing the PADS was more than £15,000, including the cabinets they are stored in. We installed special stainless steel cabinets for those located near the seafront to help prevent corrosion.
“We have put on the training sessions with the help of Tomos Hughes, who started his own charity Achub Calon y Dyffryn (Saving the Heart of the Valley).
“Tomos works with the Welsh Ambulance Service and the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and is teaching people how to use PADS and how to carry out basic First Aid.”
She added: “I’m delighted so many members of the general public and not just BID members have come along to take part in the training. The knowledge they gain and the skills they learn could well save a life.”
Trainer Tomos Hughes, who was honoured with a BEM in the New Year’s Honours list for his work in installing PADS across the Conwy Valley and his service to the community, said: “I’m delighted that Colwyn BID have funded and installed these nine PADS.
“I just wish more council organisations and business would consider coming together and doing something similar across the region.
“It’s not cheap as one PAD can cost as much as £1,500 to buy and install. I then maintain them and check them regularly.
“When they are used across the region of North Wales, I will be available to support the organisation and the guardian who looks after the defibrillator with replacing the pads and batteries.”
“A defibrillator gives the patient an electrical shock across the heart which is designed to get the heart back working at a proper rhythm.
“Thanks to Colwyn BID we now have nine additional PADS across the area. If someone rings 999 and asks for an ambulance and it’s likely to be a cardiac arrest that’s the issue the ambulance call handler will direct the caller to the nearest machine and give them a code to access the cabinet.
“The caller can then use the defibrillator until the ambulance crew arrives. The machine itself gives verbal, easy to follow, instructions to the user. You cannot hurt someone or make matters worse by using a defibrillator. A shock will only be administered if it is required.”
He added: “It’s wonderful to see so many members of the public interested and willing to learn potentially lifesaving skills. Well done to everyone involved with Colwyn BID.”
Supply teaching assistant Libre DiCapula, who lives in Colwyn Bay, took her daughter Saskia, 11, along to the training event and says the experience was well worth it.
She said: “I wanted my daughter to get an understanding of what to do in the event of someone having a cardiac arrest and I wanted her to know how to use a defibrillator.
“I also wanted to refresh my own skills as it’s several years since I last did any training. Tomos was fantastic and the session was absolutely brilliant. I’ve been on lots of courses but this was the best and I came away a lot more confident and felt I’d learned a great deal.
“Saskia also enjoyed it and was pleased she agreed to come along. She was a little apprehensive of the dummies that are used as a teaching aid but once she got going it was fine.”
She added: “It’s brilliant Colwyn BID put the training session on and allowed everyone to attend, it might just save a life.”