A GAVIN & Stacey favourite has launched the Welsh Ambulance Service’s annualDefibuary campaign.
Melanie Walters, who plays Gwen West in the much-loved BBC sitcom, was in Swansea to signal the start of the month-long campaign to educate the public about the importance of bystander CPR and defibrillation.
There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year in the UK.
A person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest will decrease by 10% every minute without good quality CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and early defibrillation.
The Swansea-born actress is urging members of the public who witness a cardiac arrest not to be afraid of defibrillators and to start the ‘chain of survival’.
Melanie said: “Detection of heart problems and early intervention for heart attacks is very important on a deep personal level to me after my father died as a result of a heart attack aged 33 years old in the 60s.
“We are now in the position in 2020 with machines in and around our community, an ordinary bystander can help increase a person’s chance of survival.
“We need to bring awareness to the location of defibrillators and the fact they are very simple to use.”
A cardiac arrest occurs when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body.
When your heart stops pumping blood, your brain is starved of oxygen and this causes you to fall unconscious and stop breathing.
Brendan Lloyd, Executive Director of Medical and Clinical Services at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Every second counts when someone goes into cardiac arrest.
“They need immediate CPR from those around them who will often be family members, colleagues or passers-by.
“As well as good quality CPR, the patient may need to be treated with a defibrillator.
“A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart and is an essential part in trying to save the life of someone who’s in cardiac arrest
“They can be found in public areas and are simple and safe to use; the machine will tell you what to do so you don’t need training.
“A defibrillator will only deliver a shock when needed – it can’t cause harm.”
The Defibuary campaign, which launches on Saturday and runs throughout February, is also asking for the public’s help to ensure that all defibrillators across Wales are registered on the 999 system.
To get involved, simply take a picture of yourself with a defibrillator making it as unique as you like.
Tweet the picture along with its location and postcode to @WelshAmbPIH using the hashtag #Defibuary2020.
There will be prizes up for grabs at the end of February, including a defibrillator.
Fiona Maclean, the Trust’s Patient Experience and Community Involvement Manager, said: “Defibuary is a fantastic campaign that promotes life-saving CPR and defibrillation whilst encouraging everyone in the community to get involved in a defibrillator hunt.
“Last year with the help of the public, we identified 129 new defibrillator locations that were not registered on our system and we’re hopeful we can uncover even more this year.”
More than 17 million people tuned into the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special, which also scooped an Impact Award at this week’s National Television Awards.
Melanie added: “I am so pleased to have been approached to get involved in the #Defibuary2020 campaign.
“I’m delighted to help raise awareness of defibrillators. We can all help save lives, how amazing is that?”