A defibrillator has been installed at the St Andrews Men’s Shed, funded by a local resident and wife of one of its members. The device is located at the Men’s Shed site within the Botanical Gardens. The defibrillator is a welcome addition to the town which now has more than 50 installed. St Andrews Men’s Shed is the local branch of the non-profit organisation where men and women, but often older men, take part in activities that might be done in a regular garden shed. Unlike normal garden sheds which are often solitary spaces, Men’s Shed encourages social interactions between members and the local community. There are just over fifty Shedders, the name given to Shed members, which make up the St Andrews Men’s Shed. According to St Andrews Men’s Shed, “The organisation provides an opportunity for men in and around St Andrews to meet and socialise around practical activities that contribute to their well-being and to the general good of the community.” Over the summer, St Andrews Men’s Shed organised a crowdfund to raise £1,500 to buy a defibrillator. According to their website, “Within hours, a local resident whose husband is a Men’s Shed member, came forward and offered the full purchase price as a donation.”
A defibrillator works by delivering an electric shock to the heart of someone in cardiac arrest. This occurs when the heart stops pumping blood around the body and regular breathing stops.
The NHS Foundation Trust states, “Defibrillation within three to five minutes can increase survival rates to 50-70%.” It also stresses the importance of bystander CPR as well as the use of a defibrillator within the first min- utes to improve chances of survival. While training is useful in case of an emergency, the device has been designed to be easy to use, even without training. Scott Lynch, health and safety officer for the University of St Andrews said, “The University offers training which covers the use and applications of defibrillators.” Henry Paul, chairman of St Andrews Men’s Shed, said the University has been good at supplying defibrillators in the town.
Paul added that the Shed’s defibrillator is the latest achievement to get the heart starting devices on as many public buildings.
Defibrillators in St Andrews are installed in areas that are used regularly by residents and students. This includes Buchanan Building, Byre Theatre, Church Square, and East Sands.
University-owned defibrillators are situated in each Halls of Residence, the Porters Lodge, subject buildings and other high foot-fall sites such as the Main Library. Willie Rennie, MSP for North East Fife, said that, “There are quite a few defibs now but there should be more.” He added, “Another challenge is making sure the ambulance service knows where they are and that they are fully operational (especially after use) in case anyone needs to use them. That work is underway.”
The Shedders, who meet each Tuesday and Thursday joke that the strenuous labour at the Shed increased the need for a defibrillator and point out that there are “many old men in St Andrews”. On a more sober note, Paul said, “Whilst we hope it is never called into use, we are now safe in the knowledge that we have it close at hand.” St Andrews Men’s Shed has an event coming up on Sunday 10 October at the Botanical Gardens where they will be pressing apples. Everyone is welcome.