What community benefit could be greater than saving life?

Sheshader might just be the best village in Lewis – if not the Outer Hebrides – in which to have a heart attack. For not only does the village have its own defibrillator – it also has a telephone hotline for summoning the defibrillator and a neighbour who can use it!

Point and Sandwick Trust was delighted to help fund the Point village’s defence against heart attacks.

Our community wind farm recently passed the £1million mark in charitable donations since the Beinn Ghrideag turbines began generating power and profit for the community benefit pot. And as far as good causes and community benefit go, it doesn’t get much better than saving life – which is what our £885 grant to Sheshader Amenities Association was all about.

The Point and Sandwick Trust money helped fund the acquisition of their defibrillator and also the installation of an emergency telephone system.

Using the special number – 01851 808404 – anyone in Sheshader can make an alarm call and summon the defibrillator to be brought by one of the volunteers who knows how to use it. 

Mike Shailes, chair of the Sheshader Amenities Assocation, explained that the number would alert the ‘shock squad’ – the 10 villagers who have been trained to use the defibrillator, kept on the outside wall of the village shed – that someone needed help.

The call automatically goes through to all 10 and the first to respond will collect the defibrillator, known informally as the ‘shock box’, and take it to the casualty. The defibrillator is located on an exterior wall of the community shed in the middle of the village.

Mike explained how potentially life-saving this intervention could be.

For every minute that passes after a cardiac arrest without successful treatment, chances of survival decrease by 23 per cent. Given that an ambulance is probably 10 minutes from Sheshader at best, if it is sitting in Stornoway – and potentially much further away, if it’s on a call somewhere like South Lochs – he said the Sheshader defibrillator and emergency number were a great protection.

“Within eight minutes, it would save the lives of 15 out of 100 people who collapse out of cardiac arrest. It’s not a definite, that if you have a cardiac arrest and somebody gets to you and applies the defibrillator, that you’ll suddenly jump up… but you might do.”

Sheshader Amenities Association received the defibrillator and training from Skye-based charity Lucky2BHere and around half the total costs of the equipment and installation, training, and the telephone system were met by the Point and Sandwick Trust donation.

Mike said: “Point and Sandwick Trust gave us half the money. It was fantastically helpful. It takes the pressure off, when you are looking to fund something.”

The emergency telephone system went live in November.

Mike had come across it when he was doing internet research on defibrillators for community use. As far as he is aware, it is not a system far more commonly used in England than Scotland. 

Donald John MacSween, General Manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said we were delighted to be able to help such a worthwhile project.

“Point and Sandwick Trust supports a wide range of projects but what can be more important than potentially helping to save life? 

“Emergency services on the island are under a lot of pressure and if the ambulance is on a callout at the other end of the island, this defibrillator, and crucially people who have the knowledge and confidence to use it, really could make the difference between life and death. 

“We are very happy to have supported this project and emergency set up in Sheshader. Hopefully, they will not have call to use it – but at least it is there if they do.”

  • • Pictures of the Sheshader defibrillator team by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos. They are, from left to right in the main featured image: Iain Macleod, Deborah Ford, Mike Shailes, Kathleen MacLeod, Alison Musty, Iain MacLeod, Sue Hales and Mark Musty.