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Life-saving defibrillators installed at Buckfast Abbey

Seven new life-saving defibrillators have been installed at Buckfast Abbey, taking the total on site to eight. This makes the religious centre and popular tourist attraction one of only a handful of venues in the South West to have so many defibrillators available in one place.

The vital role the resuscitation equipment plays has recently received global attention following Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen’s sudden cardiac arrest at the Euros 2020 match, showing that people of all ages and levels of fitness can benefit from fast access to defibrillators.

Every year in the UK over 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrests outside hospital. For every minute that passes without early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation, chances of survival fall by 10%.

With many thousands of visitors coming to the Abbey, its grounds, conference centre, hotel and self-catering accommodation each year, the defibrillators and their potential to save lives is seen as vital; providing a fast response for visitors, staff and the local community, should a medical emergency occur.

The seven new units which are provided by South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) will offer the potential of life sustaining support to thousands of Buckfast Abbey’s annual visitors, their 114 staff members, and the on-site community of monks.

Ian Stone, Health and Safety Officer at Buckfast Abbey, says: “As a Community First Responder (CFR) for the Chudleigh team, I know how important defibrillators are in saving patients’ lives before the ambulance arrives.

“Having offered immediate life-saving care for individuals suffering from cardiac arrest, chest pain, breathing difficulties, fitting or a stroke, I’ve seen first-hand how important these devices can be in increasing chances of survival, so it’s great to have such a high number on site at the Abbey.” 

Kevin Bowyer, Assistant Community Responder Officer for the South Western Ambulance Service, South & West Devon, says: “The high density of life-saving equipment available at Buckfast Abbey ensures that anyone in need of immediate life-saving care can be assisted immediately, increasing survival rates by up to 70%.

“Whilst the G5 defibrillators can be accessed by anyone who needs them, our training will make a huge difference in ensuring all staff can give the best CPR and care possible, giving visitors, staff and monks a greater chance of survival whilst reducing the pressure felt by CFRs in the region.”

All Buckfast Abbey staff will receive a two-hour defibrillator awareness session every year to ensure that the life-saving equipment can be deployed quickly and effectively, without the help of trained medics. Staff will also be offered a welfare follow up for anyone who has been involved in rescuing a patient in cardiac arrest.

Abbot David Charlesworth added: “The provision of these defibrillators is crucial to our community and to the wider community.  During a medical emergency, their availability to help people in cardiac arrest will undoubtedly save precious lives, and that is something that we can all be thankful for.”

Buckfast Abbey is home to a community of Benedictine monks and it offers a unique, tranquil ambience, open seven days a week to the public. Entry is free and there is ample free car parking.  For more information on the Abbey, Mass times, events and attractions visit www.buckfastabbey.org.uk