A new solar-powered defibrillator unit has been installed in Leicester’s city park.
The unit, at Bennion Pools nature area, in Beaumont Leys, is the first of its kind in the city and among the first to be installed across the country.
Public-access defibrillators are usually situated in a cabinet to keep them safe and protect them from the elements. While defibrillators are powered by long-life batteries, the cabinets typically need a power supply to keep them warm and dry. Without this, the defibrillators can be damaged by cold or condensation.
Because of the need for a power supply, defibrillator units are often situated on the wall of a clubhouse or park building and can be scarce in more open areas. A solar unit can get round this problem, using renewable energy to keep the defibrillator warm and dry.
There are around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests a year in the UK, half of which are witnessed by friends and family. Quick access to a defibrillator can significantly improve survival rates.
The city council has set aside £65,000 in an ongoing project to make automated external defibrillators available in Leicester’s parks and open spaces. lt already has 28 defibrillators at 21 locations in its parks and open spaces, with plans to install a further six units before April 2018.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair, who is responsible for culture, leisure and sports, said: “This is a trial project but if successful, we will order more of these solar-powered units.
“Bennion Pools is the perfect place to try this out because it’s well-used but doesn’t have any nearby buildings with a power supply.
“We want to lead the way in Leicester by making all of our parks ‘heart safe’ parks.”
The council’s parks department also runs several free training courses a year, open to anyone who would like to learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator. These courses are run in conjunction with local charity the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust.