The Community Heartbeat Trust is a charity that help support communities in the correct provision of defibrillators in sustainable, resilient and governance led manner.

With the current global pandemic crisis, the Community Heartbeat Trust have taken extra steps to ensure they continue to offer their support and volunteers from across the charity are coming together in our hour of need.

We at Soho66 are delighted to offer our services for such a wonderful cause. We spoke to the charity earlier last week.

1 – Tell us some more about the Community Heartbeat Trust and your main mission.

The Community Heartbeat Trust are a national charity whose sole mission is to reduce the amount of Cardiac Arrest related deaths in the UK. We do this firstly, by supporting communities in provision of AED Community Public Access Defibrillators (cPAD) and other community resilience services, such as our community first responder schemes or V.E.T.S Volunteers, which use the Soho66 infrastructure to forward calls for local help in emergencies using a centralised number.

Secondly, we promote, educate and train in all aspects of “First Person on Scene”, “Emergency First aid”, “Basic Life Support” and similar medical programmes and schemes. If more of the populace are trained in CPR and with access to defibrillators then more lives can be saved. The figures in the UK equate to about 60,000-100,000 deaths per year from Cardiac Arrest or 5 people per minute, worldwide you are probably looking at 9,000,000 deaths a year.

Last but certainly not least, help with policies, insurance, governance and long-term support to defibrillator sites to ensure they are ready 99% of the time. We have developed the UK’s most comprehensive governance system that both provides a holistic overview of the defib site, but also offers communities protection by providing holistic governance framework for their medical equipment.

2 – How are you helping the community during the current COVID-19 pandemic?

Looking at what we offered in terms of Volunteer response schemes, we saw that these could be easily adapted to provide volunteer groups for communities that can then provide essential services to those at high risk of severe complications from the coronavirus. We began to adapt some already existing groups to temporarily serve as a central volunteer network for their community using Soho66’s hunt groups and forwarding technologies. This then led to the establishment of the partnership scheme between Soho66 and Community Heartbeat which we termed V.E.T.S C19. With Soho66 helping to reduce costs we are able to provide localised telephone numbers that connect to around 10 volunteers at the cost of £50 per system for 6 months including the call time.

3 – What extra challenges has the pandemic brought to the charity?

Whilst we are continuing to support our 5500 strong network of defibrillator sites with deployments and issues and on upcoming projects where possible. It is certainly a trying time. The majority of our fund raising like many other charities is event based and in particular picks up in summer while the weather is good and due to the lockdown this has fallen off drastically, we actually find most of our funding and projects coming via word of mouth and face to face events such as community training, so the transition to relying on online facilities is certainly difficult. One of the other key challenges has been putting together advice for all community defibrillator sites to fall in line with government guidance and social distancing, which of course has an impact as people are hesitant to come into contact with others directly and in a rescue CPR and defibrillation involves being close to patients, the advice is quite comprehensive so we suggest visiting our website to learn more

4 – What initially brought you to Soho66 and how are we helping you during the pandemic?

As we already had an established working relationship with Soho66 providing routing for around 200 local defibrillator volunteer groups, so we knew we could approach them with the idea for a similar initiative. It came about as I had received several requests to establish Coronavirus support lines for communities and thus a scheme was put together in discussion between our National Secretary Martin Fagan and James Pearson of Soho66 which is now termed the V.E.T.S C19 (The Volunteer Emergency Telephone System C19).

5 – What measurable benefits have you seen?

The benefits of having a system like C19 in a lockdown are numerous. First of all, many in the high risk age category are not necessarily as comfortable with apps and smartphones, and having a system that requires no learning curve side from dialling a phone number means it is quick and easy to establish and provides familiarity. Also instead of relying on one person to be available a local number can now connect you to numerous volunteers at the same time therefore increasing the chances of getting assistance, even in situations where 10 or more people may not be available voice-mails can be sent to an e-mail address for quick review later. Also no installation of equipment is required and therefore there is no possibility of exposure to potential infections.

We have been running two pilot groups who have heavily relied on the system since implemented, and both are currently busy taking requests for medication, shopping or just social connections during this time. They have reported that they have found the system very useful and are currently using it to provide for the most vulnerable in their communities. The scheme has also recently been approved by the home office who were very impressed with the idea and should soon appear on the list of approved suppliers for technological means of helping during the pandemic.

Categories: Blog