SAMPFORD Courtenay Parish Council is rethinking its strategy on installing defibrillators in the parish after a successful training session in how to use them.

Parishioners and councillors got an emergency training session in how to use the lifesaving equipment at Sampford Courtenay village hall on Saturday.

First aid trainer Joe Rice also showed them how a combination of CPR and rescue breaths (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) would buy time, keeping the patient alive while the nearest defibrillator was located.

The equipment, which runs on electric power, can then be used to restart the heart.

Parish councillor Colin Coleman said the training had made the council reconsider installing defibrillators in the parish, at a cost of around £1,200 each, possibly in redundant telephone boxes in the parish.

‘It was really really good training, focusing on keeping the patient stable until you can get a defibrillator to them,’ he said. ‘Everybody said it was really useful.’

Councillor Jon Clatworthy-Edwards, who organised the training day, added: ‘After extensive consultation with parishioners, the consensus of opinion was that defibrillators could not be used to advantage owing to the size and nature of the parish; put simply by the time one had got to the defibrillator and returned to the casualty it would be literally too late!

‘The core issue that was not fully appreciated previously [though] is that a victim of cardiac arrest chances can be significantly increased by a combination of CPR and Rescue Breaths to give sufficient time for the nearest defibrillator to be located and put into action even if it is quite distance and time from the incident.’

The defibrillator itself was not as daunting as expected either, the councillors said, as the machine itself issued instructions out loud on how to use it.

Nicky Courage, who runs Middletown B&B in Sampford Courtenay and attended the course, said: ‘I’d just like to say a big “thank you” to SCPC for arranging an excellent first aid training session in Sampford Courtenay village hall. Joe Rice was a brilliant trainer who inspired me with the confidence to no longer be a bystander in an emergency situation.

‘I strongly encourage everyone in our community to take up this opportunity, as any one of us could at some point in our lives be presented with a situation that requires just that little bit of knowledge. I would also say that it was evident from the session, that to have defibrillators at various sites throughout the parish would be very beneficial, as that combined with CPR can save lives. Joe’s training reassured us that it is not difficult to use a defibrillator, as we were able to practice with three different versions on realistic and responsive dummies.’

Mr Coleman said the council were thinking of running further courses, which will be free and open to all including children. Anyone who would like to come along can contact the parish clerk via the Sampford Courtenay website –