Life-saving defibrillator installed at revamped Sunderland community centre, and first aid course launched

A potentially life-saving defibrillator has been installed as a revamped centre expands its offering for the community.

Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 12:18 pm

The vital equipment has been installed at St Michael’s Community Centre in Stannington Grove, Hill View, after the centre recently changed its name from Grangetown Community Centre as part of a major revamp to boost its services to the community.

It’s one of scores of defibrillators in the city provided by the Red Sky Foundation, the lifeline Wearside charity set up by Sergio and Emma Petrucci after their little girl Luna underwent life-saving heart surgery when she was a toddler.

The organisation promotes cardiac health and has organised to install life-saving defibrillators at locations across the region.

St Michael's Community Centre receive a defibrillator from Red Sky Foundation founder Sergio Petrucci with help from Denis Crompton, Cllr Michael Dixon, Jackie Robson and Liz McEvoy.

Prior to this latest installation, the nearest defibrillator, which delivers a dose of electric current to the heart when someone goes into cardiac arrest, was at the chemists in Tunstall Road, Ashbrooke.

Fewer than 5% of people survive a cardiac arrest outside hospital but that rises to 70% if a defibrillator is used within three minutes – so Sergio says the location of each of the defibrillators can be the difference between life and death.

"Sudden cardiac arrest doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone at any age,” he said. “So it’s vital that we work together with schools and community centres like this so we can engage with the community to educate them.

"A lot of people think they can hurt people by using the defibrillator, but it looks for an irregular rhythm so doesn’t deliver an electric shock unless someone is in cardiac arrest. Every minute that passes, the chance of survival drops by 10%, and it’s after four minutes of being starved of oxygen that brain damage can occur.

St Michael's Community Centre receive a defibrillator from Red Sky Foundation founder Sergio Petrucci.

“I’ve met a few people who’ve been saved by the Red Sky Foundation defibrillators and it’s a really humbling experience.”

Denis Crompton, development worker at the centre, said: “Installing a defibrillator is something we’ve discussed as a management board since the beginning, and when Sergio came to our open day it really generated the momentum to have it done. Ultimately, if one life is saved it’s worth it.”

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The cost of the defibrillator was covered by St Michael’s ward councillors.

Coun Michael Dixon said: “Along with my St Michael’s ward colleagues, Lyall Reed and Peter Wood, we were very pleased to cover the cost of the defibrillator from our Council’s East Area Committee allocated funding. The system worked well because it gave councillors the independence to support and recommend projects that clearly benefited their wards.”

He added “Members of the Community Centre’s newly-formed management board had spoken about the installation of a defibrillator at one of its first meetings; subsequently Jackie Robson and Denis Crompton were instrumental in getting Sergio and the Red Sky Foundation involved and it has gone from there. A very positive addition to the centre.”

The centre is planning to host an awareness session for the community for people interested in taking part in a First Aid course, which will include use of the defibrillator.

Funding is in place for 36 people to attend the course and become First Aid accredited.

Anyone interested in attending can contact Denis on Tel. 07399 981281 or email [email protected]