Region’s stations to receive life-saving defibrillators

Staffed South Western Railway stations across the region will receive life saving defibrillators in a rollout that is expected to be completed by the summer.
On completion of the project, Salisbury, Tisbury and Andover will each have one of the devices available for use day or night by staff members, the public and local communities.
In total, 154 stations across the rail operator’s extensive network will have publicly accessible defibrillators.
They will be placed in protective cabinets as close as possible to the front entrance of the stations, to be used 24 hours in the event of cardiac incidents at or near stations.
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 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.
During a cardiac arrest, every minute counts. The immediate use of CPR and defibrillators can double the chances of survival. Expanding the availability of these machines can, therefore, be lifesaving.
The locations will be added to ‘The Circuit’ – the BHF’s database. Once registered, a defibrillator is visible to NHS ambulance services who can direct 999 callers to its location so it can be used to help save lives.
A heating system will ensure that the defibrillators can maintain their normal operating temperature. A monitoring system will also send an alert if a machine malfunctions or the battery is low, ensuring it is always ready to use.
The announcement coincides with the naming of The Alex Wardle Foundation train at London Waterloo. The charity was set up by Steve Wardle, an SWR operations trainer, and his family, following his son’s death from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome in 2016.
Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) is the name given when someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly from a cardiac arrest, particularly young, apparently healthy, people.
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.
Since it was set up, SWR has raised more than £7,000 for the charity to contribute community defibrillators as well as training courses for their use. This helped inspire SWR’s decision to fund defibrillators for all its staffed stations.
Claire Mann, managing director of South Western Railway, alongside SWR colleagues as well as Steve Wardle and other members of the Alex Wardle Foundation, took part in defibrillator training at the event. She 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.”
Steve Wardle, Alex Wardle’s father and founder of the Alex Wardle Foundation, said: “It is wonderful to see this vision come to life. Having worked on the railway for nearly 40 years, I am thankful for the railway family’s support.
“March 2023 will mark seven years since Alex’s death and, although I am still a grieving parent, I feel proud of everything that we have achieved to support our community.
“This is such a momentous occasion and a showcase of everyone’s dedication. Defibrillators save lives and I hope that one day, if needed, it will save someone and their family true heartbreak. We are extremely grateful, and this is such an exciting opportunity.”

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