Monday, 29 November 2021

‘I want defibrillator at all National Trust properties’

‘I want defibrillator at all National Trust properties’

A VOLUNTEER at Greys Court is calling for defibrillators to be provided at all National Trust properties.

Padmakar Agrawal, from Caversham, lost his wife to cardiac arrest but said a defibrillator had given her a fighting chance.

He and his wife Margaret were both members of the trust and were frequent visitors to Greys Court, the Tudor house near Rotherfield Greys. Mr Agrawal has volunteered there since her death seven years ago.

Mr Agrawal, a National Trust member, is to present a motion at the trust’s annual meeting on October 30. If passed, it would mean that all trust properties which have more than 40,000 visitors per year and charge an entry fee would have to have at least one defibrillator installed within two years.

The National Trust’s board of trustees has recommended members vote against the motion.

Neither Greys Court nor Nuffield Place, near Henley, has a defibrillator.

Mr Agrawal has campaigned for the provision of defibrillators since his wife died in 2014, aged 69.

He said: “She’d had badminton practice that week and we were in bed at 8am drinking Yorkshire tea and chatting when she went into cardiac arrest. It can happen to anyone at any time. The paramedics were excellent and they had a defibrillator, which they used in our bedroom and were able to keep her alive long enough to get her to the hospital.

“Unfortunately, she passed away in hospital but the defibrillator gave her a fighting chance to get to the hospital alive, which is all people want.”

He said that many elderly people visited National Trust properties and in 2018, there were 13 cardiac arrests on trust properties.

“For an ambulance to get to Greys Court it would take from 30 to 50 minutes,” said Mr Agrawal. “The chance of survival decreases by 10 per cent with every minute that defibrillation is delayed.

“I could just fundraise and buy a defibrillator for Greys Court but I don’t just want it for here, I want all properties to have one.”

Mrs Agrawal was a steward at Caversham Heights Methodist Church and since her death her husband has campaigned successfully for churches in Caversham to buy a defibrillator.

All the churches now have one or have committed to getting one. Mr Agrawal appealed to National Trust members to turn out and vote for his motion at the meeting.

He said: “Henley has a large number of National Trust members. Normally only one in 200 members votes, so if more people take part we can get a result.

“I’ve worked out that the cost for the National Trust would be about £1.70 a week. A National Trust tea costs £2, so it would be easy for them to afford and I don’t know why they’re opposing it.”

The meeting will take place at Harrogate Convention Centre and Mr Agrawal will address it via a video link. Members can attend in person or vote online or by post.

In the statement supporting his motion, Mr Agrawal writes: “The ambulance service is rarely able to attend and provide defibrillation early enough. As such, the best way to ensure prompt defibrillation is for someone nearby to use an automated external defibrillator to deliver the shock that may save a life.

“The National Trust has a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who truly care for the wellbeing of nearly 30 million visitors who pay for entry to properties each year.

“Having defibrillators at its properties would be a significant addition to existing first aid provisions.” In their response, the trustees said: “We take visitor safety extremely seriously at all the properties in our care. We have installed more than 100 defibrillators, working closely with local communities and groups. We always manage our approach to defibrillators according to local conditions.”

They said many sites were “not appropriate” for defibrillators when issues such as remoteness, physical activity and partnerships with local health and other providers were taken into account.

They continued: “We manage a huge and complex range of risks around the safety of buildings and the provision of largely open access to huge areas of land. This includes water bodies, cliffs, ruined buildings, trees and other hazards.

“We strive to be rigorous in the use of National Trust resources by taking the most appropriate, proportionate approach to managing risks in each setting.

“We continue to review the locations of our defibrillators on a site-by-site basis through our cyclical reviews. However, we feel that it would be inconsistent to apply a formulaic approach on this issue when we take a risk-based approach on all other matters.”

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