A FORMER firefighter who helped save a life by giving CPR in Taunton is now looking to raise funds to set up at least two defibrillators in the town centre.

Richard McGhee, who used to work for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, gave CPR to a member of the public a few years ago in the town centre and that moment made him aware of the lack of public access defibrillators in the area.

Now, the 38-year-old from Cotford St Luke, wants to raise money to install at least two public defibrillators around the town centre.

At the moment, according to a HeartSafe.org.uk map, there are two life-saving machines in the town centre, one in Marks&Spencer and another one in an office and Mr McGhee is concerned those may only be used during office hours.

Somerset County Gazette:
Gregory Field, fire and health and safety officer at Marks&Spencer

Some machines may require key-fobs and other ways of access, he said, that could not be quick enough in case of an emergency.

This is why he is looking to install public access ones that would be accessible thanks to the ambulance’s register that would allow people to get a code and use the defibrillators.

Other defibrillators in the town centre or in the Taunton area, however, might not appear on the map.

Mr McGhee said: “People get confused about public access. There could be one, for example, in the police station but no members of the public can get in.

“So as far as the public ones, there are only two; one in Marks&Spencer and another one in an office and they can only be used during working hours. There is nothing, really.

“I think it’s important because I have given CPR in town myself. I came across someone a while ago and I remember at the time, it was near Argos and Wetherspoons, nobody had one when I asked passers-by to check if there were any available.

“Ideally, it would be nice to have one on the high street and one near McDonald’s so to cover both directions.”

Mr McGhee said the defibrillator would cost £1500, £1000 for the machine itself, and £500 for the heated cabinet needed to preserve the batteries. There would also be a cost for the electrical supply.

He also added: “To be honest, I was hoping that some of the businesses would contribute.

“I have been looking around and there is nothing. We haven’t got anything whit Taunton being one of the biggest towns in Somerset.

“A lot of people come to Taunton for shopping and we the amount of people we have in the town this is definitely something that’s needed.

“Also, I think if anything did happen, more people would be more confident using a defibrillator than doing chest compressions. It’s something that we need really quick.”

Gregory Field, fire and health and safety officer at Marks & Spencer, said the defibrillator at the shop was installed five years ago.

Mr Field said: “We installed it to look after our customers, unfortunately things do happen.

“Fortunately, it has never been used but it’s a helpful backup if we needed it.”

The defibrillator can not be used when the shop is closed but Mr Field explained that after 6pm there is staff in the building until at least 8pm so “if needed, someone will be in the building”.

He said it operates through the ‘What3Words’ location system, in which every three metre square of a given location is given a unique combination of three words.

In case of emergency, the words can be shared with the ambulance to provide the exact location of the emergency.

If you know of any other life-saving machines located around Taunton town centre, please email Antonio.Scancariello@nqsw.co.uk