Linda Williams

As convenience retailers we strive to be the metaphorical heart of our local community, so it seemed only right that we should do something to help protect local people’s actual hearts. After several months of fundraising, we have managed to raise the sum required to buy a defibrillator, which we have just installed.

It sits in a code-protected cabinet, mounted on the outside wall of the shop. If an emergency occurs, and a member of the public calls 999, the operator can direct them to the nearest defibrillator and supply them with the code, that way CPR can be started as soon as possible. Those minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Although the machine itself is very easy to use (it talks to you and tells you what to do), quite a few of us felt a bit nervous about having to use it, so Dennis and I decided that we would put all of our staff through basic first-aid training. Seven of us have been trained in how to deal with choking, bleeding, unconsciousness, and CPR using the defibrillator.Although a serious matter, we made a very entertaining evening’s training session out of it, and it helped some new staff members feel a bit more bonded with the team.

We hooked up with the charity Heartstart, who provided the training for free, and with their help we are putting plans in place to start a first-aid project with our local primary school this term.

We’ve always worked very closely with the local school and like to have a theme every year for the projects we work on, and now that we have this life-saving facility in our community, first aid seems like the obvious choice.