BT to install defibrillators in disused red phone boxes

BT is funding the installation of defibrillator equipment, which can help save the lives of cardiac arrest victims, into five decommissioned red phone boxes adopted by rural communities.

Working with the Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT), a charity that makes possible the provision of defibrillation equipment for local communities, BT is paying for the equipment and installation of the specialised life saving machines into five kiosks around the country.

Available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the defibrillation equipment is secured in the kiosk in a high visibility yellow, vandal-resistant, heated steel cabinet, which can be opened with a combination code available from the emergency services by calling 999.

The defibrillator machine talks the user through how to administer the treatment with step-by-step spoken instructions, for example, telling the user to apply the pads to the casualty’s chest. The machine analyses the casualty to determine if they are suffering from a cardiac arrest. If required, the defibrillator delivers a powerful, but controlled electric shock to restore normal heartbeat to the sufferer. It will only administer a shock when it diagnoses a cardiac arrest sufferer needs one.

BT introduced its Adopt a Kiosk scheme in 2008, in response to requests from local councils and residents. It allows a community to retain their local red BT phone box, with the payphone taken out, by buying the kiosk from the company for just £1.

Up to 200,000 people a year in the UK suffer from a sudden cardiac attack making it one of the UK’s largest killers. The faster a victim gets medical help, the better the chances of survival. The availability of a defibrillator machine greatly increases the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. With CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) alone, the survival rate is around five per cent, but defibrillation and CPR increases the chance of survival to up to 50 per cent.

Martin Fagan, national secretary of the Community Heartbeat Trust, said: “We are immensely grateful to BT for their help in this novel use of a familiar icon, phone boxes are ideal locations for emergency medical equipment because they’re often in the centre of a village.

“With something as serious as a cardiac arrest, time is of the essence, and unfortunately the emergency services can’t always reach country villages in the recommended five minutes. We hope that many more people will adopt their kiosk and enlist our help to save lives in rural communities.”

John Lumb, general manager for BT Payphones, said: “Over the years, many people have said that their local phone box was a lifeline for them, now that everyone has a phone at home or a mobile that’s no longer true, but kiosks fitted with defibrillator machines are a genuine asset to their community and could be real life savers in the future.”

www.silicon.com, www.webwire.com, www.bt.com

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