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In perfect health: Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry scoops CardiacSmart gold award

By John McDougall

Caring for public cardiac health is a top priority for Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, after it won a gold standard CardiacSmart award.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) launched the initiative to promote awareness of community heart care, with the museum being the only Manchester organisation awarded gold.

John Shedwick, the museum’s health and safety officer, believes the award is the product of hard work and feels defibrillators should be more common in public places.

“We’re extremely proud. It shows recognition and appreciation of the hard work we’ve undertaken,” he told MM.

“To get the gold straight away proves the work being done here. We have lots of visitors and we want to make sure we are capable of using defibrillators.

“We should have one of these in every school. They’re not miracle machines, they don’t save everybody, but if it can save just one person, that’s all we need.”

The museum has two defibrillators – donated by NWAS in 2005 – and 15 first responders within the premises trained to use them.

Following Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba’s heart attack during an FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur last year, cardiac health is in the public eye more than ever.

For every minute following a heart attack, a victim’s chances of survival reduce by 10 percent, making Muamba’s recovery from a 78 minute arrest all the more incredible. 

Mr Shedwick said the museum has helped train 95 children and teachers across Greater Manchester on the Heartstart programme, believing Muamba’s incident highlights the importance of defibrillators.

“The Muamba incident proved that this can happen to anyone, anywhere,” he said.

“We want to give children the principles of basic life and this includes things like choking as well not just heart attacks.

“We are trying to promote these machines. People think defibrillators are scary, but they’re not.

“You cannot misuse them as it won’t allow you to. With the training to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, they should be everywhere.”

TheNorth Westcurrently has the highest rate of coronary heart disease in the country, increasing the chance of having a heart attack.

Other Greater Manchester organisations to be awarded the gold standard include Salford Heart Care and Bolton Lads and Girls Group.

Bob Williams, NWAS Acting Chief Executive, said “The CardiacSmart award is a great way to engage with local community groups and business organisations in raising awareness of heart health.”

Around 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital each year and British Heart Foundation area development manager Gail Sargerson feels passionately about reducing this.

“The more we can do to raise awareness of the importance of heart health, the many more lives we can save in the future,” she said.

For more information about the CardiacSmart initiative visit www.cardiacsmart.nwas.nhs.uk

Photo courtesy of North West Ambulance Service, with thanks.

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