Hero market stall owners help launch lifesaving equipment

Published Friday, 7th February 2014
Launch of AED at Rotherham Markets
Market traders heart equipment presentation

Two quick-thinking stall holders, who became heroes last year when they leapt to action and saved the life of a man, are marking their achievement by helping to launch lifesaving equipment.

Butcher Mark Brown and card stall owner Kim Smithson used their lifesaving skills to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the man, who had a heart attack last September in the town centre market hall, for 15 minutes until the paramedics arrived and managed to restart his heart.

Thanks to their actions, although still extremely ill, he survived the ordeal. Paramedics reported afterwards that his chances of full recovery would have been much improved if his heart could have been re-started sooner.

With this in mind, Rotherham Markets Manager Robin Lambert organised a collection around the market traders to raise money to buy an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for the popular markets, which have an estimated 85,000 visiting shoppers each week.

The defibrillator is a lifesaving machine that can be used to give the heart an electric shock in some cases of cardiac arrest.  When someone has a cardiac arrest, early defibrillation is essential to significantly increase the chance of survival.

In less than a week, the generous traders rallied around and contributed enough to buy their own defibrillator and a cabinet to house it.

After taking advice from the ambulance service, who explained that such a large site would benefit from having two machines, Robin applied to the British Heart Foundation for match funding so that the markets could get a second defibrillator to cover both the indoor and outdoor markets.

The two machines have now been delivered, and to celebrate Rotherham Markets and the British Heart Foundation hosted a fundraising day on Friday 7 February to coincide with the national 'Ramp up the Red' campaign to raise much needed funds for the British Heart Foundation and also act as an official launch for the two lifesaving defibrillator units.

The Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr John Foden, was on hand to officially launch the use of the two units and help with the fundraising.

Rotherham Markets Manager, Robin Lambert, said, "The traders at Rotherham Markets value their loyal customers very highly which is why, when such a serious incident occurred and two of our traders acted so heroically, everybody pulled together to make sure that, in the future, the market would have the very latest first aid equipment on hand to ensure the safety of its customers.

"This was an incredibly serious incident which shocked all of us here to the core. Thankfully, we had two people nearby who managed to prevent a crisis from becoming a tragedy.

"I know they're quite modest about what happened, but thanks to Mark and Kim a man will be able to return home to his family. Hopefully, now, thanks to our traders chipping in, we'll have even more potential lifesavers ready to jump in if another, and touch wood it doesn't, incident occurs."

Trader Mark Brown added, "I'd had first aid training in the past, and my wife is a nurse, so, when we heard the gentleman fall, I instinctively knew what to do.

"Performing CPR was incredibly tiring, so thankfully Kim was on hand so we could keep the compressions going. Having the AED seconds away would have helped massively, which is why it's so good we now have two close by.

"It's been a real team effort to get the two AED units and the 'Ramp up the Red' campaign is a great way to say thank you to the British Heart Foundation for helping us acquire a second unit, so the entire markets can be covered."

Fellow lifesaver, card stall owner Kim Smithson, echoed Mark's sentiments.

She said, "I've been a first aider for the past 13 years, but this is the first time I've had to use my CPR skills. It was nerve-wracking at first, but the adrenalin kicks in and you get on with it.

"The gentleman collapsed outside my stall and as soon as we looked we realised it wasn't just a fall. Mark dashed over and started the CPR while I called the ambulance, then took over when his arms started aching.

"After the paramedics arrived and took over, they said we'd done a great job and if it wasn't for our quick thinking he wouldn't have stood a chance, which, although it took me hours to compose myself after, was really nice to hear.

"Having the AED units here is a great reassurance for both traders and staff. If it ever happened again we'd know what to do instantly."

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Ken Wyatt, added, "Congratulations to the star stall holders who showed real skill and bravery by saving a man's life.

"Thanks to Rotherham Heart Town and the British Heart Foundation, awareness about cardiac arrests, and the means of how to save someone's life, has increased exponentially in the town.

"We now have approximately 60 defibrillators across Rotherham thanks to local businesses, individuals, groups and various Council departments and  this is a real example of how having a AED close by, and the skills to use them, could have been vital.

"It's just fortunate we had to very savvy people close at hand who have clearly made Rotherham Markets very proud."

Lauren Mallinson, Community Fundraising Manager for the British Heart Foundation, said, "When someone has a cardiac arrest, defibrillation needs to be prompt. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, chances of survival decrease by around 10 per cent.

"It is estimated that there are around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year. Of these, around 30,000 are treated by emergency medical services.

"Having more defibrillators available locally for these emergencies is crucial to saving more lives. We are delighted to be working with the Rotherham Heart Town partnership and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service to support more organisations which meet our application criteria to widen the defibrillator network in Rotherham."

Rotherham Heart Town