EMERGENCY services have slammed thieves for the ‘abhorrent and immoral act’ of stealing a vital piece of life-saving equipment.
Police and members of the ambulance service issued the criticism this week after the ‘mindless’ theft of a defibrillator from Burpham Village Hall – a piece of a equipment that could have potentially been used to help save the life of a woman who fell critically ill at a pub little more than 200m away.
On Friday (March 28), a woman in her 70s from Littlehampton collapsed in The George pub, in Main Street, and needed emergency CPR.
The pub’s manager Martin Bear valiantly performed CPR on her for 20 minutes. However, she died in hospital earlier this week.
An ‘immoral act’
Arun district’s police commander, Chief Inspector Pip Taylor, said: “Defibrillators are a valuable resource that are embedded within our communities to help save the lives of those that need them. Anyone that steals these devices commits an abhorrent, immoral act and one that our communities should not tolerate.
“Although there’s no direct link between the theft of the defibrillator in Burpham and the emergency episode after which the woman sadly died, it shows the human impact of stealing this life-saving equipment.
“You never know when you or your family might need this device so I would ask that anyone who has any information about who was involved in the theft should call 101 quoting serial 6 of 26/3 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”
Arun’s district councillor for the area, Paul Dendle, was passing when the emergency unfurled.
Upon hearing the news of the woman’s death, Cllr Dendle said: “I was appalled to hear of the theft of the defibrillator. I am sure it was high pranks but this type of behaviour has consequences and can lead to death.
“I very much regret the death of the woman and my condolences go to the family.
“I would hope that the perpetrators of the theft reflect on this tragic incident and turn themselves in.”
He added Martin’s efforts were ‘heroic’.
The South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) said it was in the process of replacing the defibrillator. The service thanked those who helped the woman. A spokesman said: “We are saddened to hear that the woman who suffered the cardiac arrest later died. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”
He added: “The theft of this life-saving equipment was a mindless act and the defibrillator will be of no value to those who committed the offence. We would urge anyone with any information to come forward and speak to us or the police immediately.”
Cllr Dendle said Friday’s incident was the second time Martin had been called upon to give CPR. Last year, he rushed to the aid of a German worker who received an electric shook while carrying out refurbishment work.
Despite Martin’s efforts, the man died of his injuries.
Cllr Dendle said: “Defibrillators are so important. There’s a golden hour when getting people to hospital. Stabilising someone first is the most import thing and getting a defibrillator to them is one way to do this.
“If someone runs off to get a defibrillator only to discover it has been stolen, they have wasted precious moments.”
Defibrillators work by providing a shock to the heart when there is a life-threatening arrhythmia.
Many are available in public areas like leisure centres, council offices and some shops.