Train operator installs life-saving defibrillators at stations

South Western Railway (SWR) is to install publicly accessible automated external defibrillators at all 154 of the staffed stations on its network.

The train operator, which is one of the largest in the country with stations across South West London, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire Dorset, Wilshire, Somerset, and Devon, is investing more than £500,000 in the project.

The defibrillators will be placed in protective cabinets as close as possible to the front entrance of the stations, to be used day or night in the event of cardiac incidents at or near stations.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) estimates that there are around 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the United Kingdom, and tragically just 1 in 10 people survive.

Station staff and local ambulance services will be provided with the codes to unlock the cabinets and access the machines, which they can provide to members of the public in an emergency.

The rollout of the machines is expected to be competed in the summer.

The announcement of the defibrillator installation project coincides with the naming of an SWR train after the Alex Wardle Foundation in a ceremony held at London Waterloo station.

SWR has partnered with the Alex Wardle Foundation to help raise awareness of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS), when someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly from a cardiac arrest, particularly young, apparently healthy, people.

The charity was set up in memory of Alex Wardle, a medical student and son of an SWR operations trainer, who passed away from SADS in March 2016.

His father, Steve Wardle, has worked for SWR for 38 years and, along with other members of Alex’s close family and friends, he set up the charity to help further understanding of SADS and prevent deaths from the condition.

Claire Mann, managing director of South Western Railway, said: “I’m honoured to have unveiled SWR’s Alex Wardle Foundation train at London Waterloo alongside Alex’s inspirational father Steve, who has served the railway for so many years and whose foundation we are proud to support.

“Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome and other heart conditions can impact us all. As part of SWR’s commitment to the local communities we serve, I’m so pleased that we are installing defibrillators at every single one of our staffed stations, which could very well prove to be lifesaving.”

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