Every three minutes someone in the UK dies from heart or circulatory disease.

Access to a defibrillator can greatly increase the chances of survival for anyone suffering a heart attack in a public space.

The Highgate Society looks after two public access defibrillators. These are outside the Woodman Pub near Highgate Station and the men’s side of the Pond Square toilets. Both are fixed to exterior walls with 24-hour access. 

A local business, pH7 Gym, raised money for these in 2019. We worked with them to select suitable locations and helped arrange installation.

Yellow metal cabinets containing the devices have built-in heating, so the defibrillator pads don’t deteriorate in the cold. 

These defibrillators are registered with the ambulance service. When someone calls 999, they are told about the nearest defibrillator if needed and close by. 

Trained volunteer members of the Highgate Society’s Community Projects group check our defibrillators weekly and update the ambulance service’s records confirming both are in good working order. We also take responsibility for regularly purchasing and replacing defibrillator pads.

Ham & High: Andrew Sulston, chair of volunteers, Highgate SocietyAndrew Sulston, chair of volunteers, Highgate Society (Image: Highgate Society)

We have arranged several well attended training events with the London Ambulance Service, most recently at 10A this April, when 10 residents took part. The training, paid for by the society, is hands on, expertly delivered and valued by all.

Several members of our group are volunteers with the ambulance service, meaning we get text messages whenever a defibrillator is needed. If able to, we collect the device from its cabinet and take it to the required location.

With current delays in ambulance response times, we have then stayed with patients while they wait for the ambulance. On one recent occasion, the defibrillator was not required, but one of us waited for 70 minutes with a local resident to provide support. Ambulance crews are always extremely professional and very frustrated by the delays in the system at present. 

Several businesses and organisations across Highgate have their own defibrillators and we would encourage them all to register these with the ambulance service.

If you would like to get involved, attend our next training session, or have questions, please do contact our community projects group at infrastructure@highgatesociety.com, or visit our website: highgatesociety.com

Alternatively, drop in for a coffee between 10.30am and midday any Saturday morning at 10A South Grove. We would be pleased to chat about what we do. 

Andrew Sulston is a Highgate Society council member and lead on the community projects group.