A LIFE-SAVING public access defibrillator has been installed at a Knaphill church.

The device, which gives a high-energy electric shock to the heart of someone in cardiac arrest, is at Holy Trinity Church in Chobham Road, and is believed to be the first permanently unlocked defibrillator in the area.

The team at Holy Trinity Church realised the importance of a defibrillator given the number of visitors daily to the range of church activities, such as Knaphill community fridge and Holy Trinity pre-school, and, this winter, the warm welcome pop-up lounges.

Members of the community also pass by on their way to work, school, the shops and other community facilities.

Church administrator Caroline Bowen soon saw the benefit of publicly accessible defibrillators.

“Although Knaphill is fortunate to have several defibrillators, these are only accessible either during premises’ opening hours or via a code,” Caroline said.

“The British Heart Foundation (BHF) promotes unlocked cabinets to allow immediate access to a defibrillator when seconds count, avoiding the inevitable delay where a code has to be sourced and the device unlocked.”

According to the BHF website, in the UK there are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) a year, where emergency medical services attempt resuscitation.

The survival rate is low – just one in 10 in the UK survives an OHCA – but early CPR and defibrillation can double that chance of survival.

“The church successfully applied for a part-funded defibrillator from the BHF and this has been generously installed by Lewis and Tom from Bryant Electrical,” Caroline added.

“It is housed in a temperature-controlled, lit cabinet on the outside wall of the church hall and is available for use by anyone, whenever needed. It’s also registered on the national defibrillator network, The Circuit, so that the ambulance service can direct members of the community to it.”

In an emergency, the BHF says to call 999 immediately, which will put the ambulance service in charge of the situation.

Holy Trinity is encouraging its church family, visitors and the local community to learn CPR – giving chest compressions to a person in cardiac arrest – and how use a defibrillator in just 15 minutes via BHF’s free online RevivR training course at www.bhf.org.