Scrutiny Panel Report - Council Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
A report was presented from the Communities and Wellbeing Scrutiny Panel established to consider the matter of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). Councillor June Harrison, a member of that Panel, introduced the report. The Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered this matter on 25th November 2020 and had determined to establish a Scrutiny Panel to consider a number of issues about AEDs. Public AEDs were an important life-saving tool and the Council had invested in their provision. However, a number of AEDs sited on buildings not owned by the Council were now offline. The recommendations of the Panel were set out in section 5 of the Panel’s report and reproduced in the covering report to the Cabinet.
Approval of the report was not deemed a key decision.
Reasons for decision
At its meeting on 25th November 2020, the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee had resolved to establish a Scrutiny Panel to look at current issues associated with AEDs in Hyndburn. The Scrutiny Panel would be called “The Hyndburn AED Review.”
It had been determined at that meeting that there were several issues causing problems with AEDs in Hyndburn, and the Panel wished to make recommendations to resolve those issues urgently. The Committee had received detailed reports regarding AEDs in Hyndburn, but felt the need to carry out a more detailed review, with a particular focus on resolving the issues identified in the report.
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was commonly referred to as a defibrillator or ‘defib’. It was a device that gave an electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone in cardiac arrest. Without defibrillation a person in cardiac arrest would die. There were defibrillators in many public places such as shopping centres, airports, train stations, schools and businesses which anyone could use - even those without awareness training - in the event of a cardiac arrest.
In the UK, around 60,000 people had an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year and less than one in 10 people survived. One of the main reasons for this was the lack of action from bystanders before ambulance crews arrived. Defibrillation within five minutes could result in survival rates as high as 70%. For this to be happen, it was essential that bystanders took action by using defibrillators in the community. For that to happen, defibrillators needed to be made as readily available as fire extinguishers. For each minute without defibrillation, a person’s survival chances decreased by 10%.
In 2016, Huncoat and Central/Springhill Area Councils had authorised capital expenditure on 9 Defibrillators which had been installed at publically accessible sites across these areas. These had been installed on a mixture of Council, private and third sector buildings in strategic places in line with guidance from North West Ambulance Service (NWAS). As part of the installation process, the Council, with support from NWAS, had produced an agreement which laid out the responsibilities of each party (Council, NWAS and building owner) with regards to the ongoing maintenance of each AED. Building owners had agreed to supply electricity to the cabinet and to carry out regular visual inspections to ensure the AED was functional, and report any issues to NWAS.
Since then, additional AEDs had been installed, including directly on Council buildings, via further Area Council expenditure and through Area Council grants. There were currently 19 AEDs with which the Council had had some involvement. There were numerous other AEDs across Hyndburn owned by other organisations, charities and private businesses across the Borough.
There was currently no single Council department with responsibility for the authority’s AEDs. At the time of writing, 8 of the AEDs were currently offline on the NWAS system, meaning they were not available for public use. There were no issues with AEDs on Council buildings, the problems mainly lying with those AEDs purchased by the Council and located on non-Council buildings or with those AEDs purchased by third parties using an Area Council Grant.
A budget requirement of £12,000 was required annually in order for the Council to maintain the AEDs and for the officer time to carry out the required weekly checks. The budget requirement was viewed as a maximum and could be reduced significantly in subsequent years by implementing measures discussed in the appendix, such as seeking agreement from the current building owners/occupiers to carry out checks and basic maintenance or relocating AEDs to Council buildings where weekly visual checks could be carried out more efficiently by Council staff.
The AED Scrutiny Panel had investigated the issues and produced a comprehensive report on its findings.
Councillor Miles Parkinson OBE commented that the Cabinet would be happy to accept the recommendations, but that Recommendation 2.7, concerning getting AEDs back online quickly, might take a little while longer to implement than anticipated, but that every effort would be made to do this as soon as possible.
Alternative Options considered and Reasons for Rejection
Remain as is – This was not recommended as the current system was not working, 8 AEDs were currently offline and, therefore, not available should someone go into cardiac arrest in the vicinity of one of those devices. During the course of the review the Facilities Team had worked to ensure all the AEDs on Council buildings were back online, but the problem still persisted with those not on Council buildings.
Decommission the AEDs – This was not recommended as although it was recognised that the provision of public AEDs was not a statutory duty of the Council, they were important items of emergency equipment which had been proven to save lives in the community. Decommissioning should only be considered for those AEDs which were returned to the Council and where no suitable place for relocation could be found, or where the AED unit was no longer viable.
Resolved - That Cabinet:
(1) Delegates responsibility to the Chief Executive to make suitable arrangements for the ongoing management of Council AEDs having regard to the recommendations in the Scrutiny report provided.
(2) Agrees that the required budget of up to £12,000 annually be found from the remaining underspends budget for 2021/22 to be followed by a growth bid for budget provision for subsequent years.
(3) Agrees that, having public AEDs which are not available for use is worse than having no AED at all. Therefore, officers in consultation with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) should write to the building owners/occupiers and seek agreement that they will carry out weekly checks, reporting to NWAS, and maintenance, or return the AED to the Council.
(4) Agrees that, should any AEDs be returned, officers in consultation with NWAS consider whether it would be appropriate to relocate any of the AEDs or decommission them, having regard to the recommendations in the Scrutiny report provided.
(5) Agrees that Officers give consideration to what action should be taken at the end of each AED unit’s shelf life.
(6) Agrees that weekly checks, reporting and maintenance of the AED be included in any new lease agreement for the Arthur Wilson Centre.
(7) Agrees that the above recommendations should be carried out as soon as practicable in order to get the AEDs back online quickly.
(8) Agrees that officers liaise with NWAS to ensure they are fully aware of any changes to arrangements for AEDs.
(9) Agrees that officers be asked to report back to the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee in approximately 6 months time to provide an update.
- Scrutiny Panel Report on Council AEDs - Covering Report, item 25. PDF 105 KB
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