THE CORNISHMAN is today launching a campaign to get 100 lifesaving defibrillators into schools, communities and public places.
Working alongside Penzance's Ronnie Richards Memorial Charity (RRMC), the Heart Start campaign is aiming to secure funding for the public access defibrillators (PADs) across the county and see 500 members of the public trained to use them.
The cost of 100 'defibs' is estimated to be around £100,000 and The Cornishman is appealing for help from the community to reach this target.
A year ago, there was not a single public access defibrillator in Cornwall. There are now seven in west Cornwall alone, thanks to the RRMC, and we are keen to build on this early success.
One of the first priorities will be to get the equipment into all schools, as up to 270 children die each year after suffering a cardiac arrest in school.
Paul Williams founded the RRMC after his brother-in-law died of a heart attack in 2008 and he is passionate about making sure everyone has access to defibrillators.
"The thing I don't want is for someone to ring and say, 'One of our kids has gone'," said Mr Williams. "That would be devastating.
"You're not just saving that person; you're saving the whole family."
Across the UK, 2,000 people die each week after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest – or one person every five minutes.
The chance of survival is just five per cent if the victim is given CPR alone.
If a defibrillator is used as well, that victim is ten times more likely to survive the attack.
Anne Jolly, founder of the national cardiac charity Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) UK, said: "SADS UK is delighted that the Ronnie Richards Memorial Charity and The Cornishman are working to put defibrillators in schools in their area.
"This action is in line with the SADS UK national Big Shock Campaign, aiming to make defibrillators available in all schools to save young lives.
"The sooner a defibrillator is used, the better the chance is of survival."
Mr Williams added: "The RRMC has been embraced by Arrhythmia Alliance in partnership with Bolton Wanderers FC cardiac survivor Fabrice Muamba and Bolton Wanderers' Community Trust as part of their drive to place PADs across the UK."
The former Premier League midfielder hit the headlines last March when he collapsed in front of 35,000 fans in an FA Cup clash. His heart stopped for 78 minutes but he was resuscitated after repeated shocks from a defibrillator.
The first PAD in a Cornish school was installed at St Ives Junior School through the RRMC last November and fundraising for Humphry Davy and Marazion Schools is already under way.
This time next year, The Cornishman hopes every one of our schools will have this vital equipment on site.