Portable defibrillator for St James' Church in Wick

The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, with Welsh Ambulance Service national Pads manager Gerard Rothwell
Image caption The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, with Welsh Ambulance Service national Pads manager Gerard Rothwell

A church has become the first in Wales to have a defibrillator fitted which can be used to shock people back to life after a cardiac arrest.

The life-saving equipment at St James' Church in Wick, Vale of Glamorgan, was blessed by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, on Friday.

The church was asked to have the defibrillator as ambulances find it hard to reach the rural village quickly in an emergency.

Residents will be trained to use it.

More rural churches could be chosen to have the Public Access Defibrillators (Pads) in a bid to ensure someone who has a heart attack can be helped before an ambulance is able to reach the scene.

The Reverend Anthony Beer, of St James' Church, said it was a huge honour to have equipment that could help the community.

"I have only been here 15 months but I do understand that a few years ago a man died outside the church after having a heart attack," he said.

"If we'd had the defibrillator his life may well have been saved. So I'm sure having the defibrillator here will be quite a poignant thing for the people who were in the village back then."

The defibrillator, which is to be placed on the wall in the porch of St James', will be blessed by Dr Morgan.

"I've blessed some unusual places and items over the years, but this is the first I've done for a defibrillator which, ironically of course, I hope will never have to be used," Dr Morgan said.

"However, parishioners and the community of Wick as a whole can hopefully take great comfort from the fact that the defibrillator is available to them.

"It shows that the Church in Wales is a holistic, caring church - body and soul. We appreciate and respect the communities we are in and care for the population as a whole whatever their beliefs."

Saving more lives

The Welsh Ambulance Service, in partnership with the Welsh government, has trained over 4,000 volunteers across Wales to use the defibrillators in places such as railway stations, shopping precincts and leisure centres.

Image caption St James' Church in Wick is the first church in Wales to have the Public Access Defibrillator (Pad)

There is even one down the Big Pit mining museum and another on top of Snowdon.

It said it hoped St James' will be the first of many churches outside main population centres to have the equipment.

Elwyn Price-Morris, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: "It is important that members of the public understand the difference they can make by learning these important but simple skills because the best chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest is to get a defibrillator to them in the vital first few minutes."

Elaine Tanner, development manager for Wales of the British Heart Foundation, which funds the scheme, said early defibrillation was essential if a person was to survive a cardiac arrest.

"Only 3% of people who don't have access to a lifesaving defibrillator survive. This is a shockingly low figure," she said.

"Many more Welsh lives could be saved with more defibs in the community."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites