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Cardiac arrest survivor flying the flag for local community defibrillators and CPR training


By Awyr Las

Phone kiosks across North Wales are being renovated as lifesaving hubs to house public access defibrillators (PADs) by charity ‘Keep the Beats’ in partnership with local communities and supporters.

Lee Hildebrandt, is the charity’s first champion cardiac arrest survivor to feature on the phone kiosks to remind people that lives can be saved through CPR and community defibs.

Lee Hildebrandt at the time of his heart attack and cardiac arrest 3 years ago was a very fit 47 year old having recently come back from a holiday in Iceland, woke up not feeling very well in the middle of the night and promptly had a cardiac arrest. His wife and daughter quickly realised Lee needed help and went to fetch their next door neighbour, who had learnt CPR a few years previously, and although they had not had training for some years they were able to do CPR until the paramedic arrived with the defibrillator to re-start Lee’s heart.

Lee was taken to hospital where he was told that a heart attack, which is a blocked blood vessel in the heart, had caused an electrical fault, causing him to have a cardiac arrest. Lee remained an inpatient for 7 days prior to being discharged home.

Lee said “I had bruising and sore ribs from the CPR but who cares about that? I was just pleased to be home and with my family”.

“I was very fortunate that someone was around to be able to do CPR, I had recently performed my annual CPR update, so I was ready to help someone if they ever needed. I would never have thought that someone would be doing CPR on me! Before my heart attack I was very fit, I attended the gym and was running regularly. I had no signs at all that I had a heart problem”.

“Following my heart attack and cardiac arrest I had a few weeks off but soon got back to work and still enjoy going to the gym”. 

“Learning CPR is a good thing as you never know when you may need it. I feel privileged and touched to be featured on the kiosks as it really is a cause so close to my heart.”

Keep the Beats is a dedicated fund and project within The North Wales NHS charity, Awyr Las, which provides enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. Keep the Beats is run by frontline staff and cardiac patients, who know how vital it is to have access to defibrillators in the community as well as CPR training.

Tomos Hughes BEM, the North Wales Community Public Access Defibrillator Officer, through Keep the Beats is spearheading this project across North Wales to ensure more lives can be saved.

“A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating. Every second counts. If you don’t do anything, the chance of survival will decrease, every minute by 10%. Performing CPR and using a defibrillator before the ambulance arrives doubles the chance of survival.”  Tomos advises.

Keep The Beats is passionate about supporting its North Wales community with CPR and defibrillator training and is asking people to be aware of where their nearest community defibrillator is and be prepared to “give CPR a try and not just walk on by”.

Keep the Beats are so thankful to all the local communities who have already helped to install public defibrillators across local towns, villages and rural locations.

If you would like to find out more about public access defibrillators in your community, know of a local phone box that could house one or would like information about CPR training then please get in touch with Awyr Las.