EVERY dental practice in the Lothians is set to be given a life-saving defibrillator in a bid to save more victims of heart attacks.
The defibrillators will be installed as part of a £1 million Scottish Government scheme to put the devices in dental surgeries across the country.
The British Dental Association (BDA) today welcomed the news and said the roll-out – due to be completed by August – would give dental teams the “potential to save many lives”.
The announcement follows a move by the family of tragic footballer Jamie Skinner to supply dozens of defibrillators to schools and teams across the region and in his native Nigeria in his memory.
The death of the former Hearts youth team member in December from a suspected heart attack as he played for Tynecastle FC has put the availability of defibrillators at the centre of public debate.
Figures have shown that more than 1500 Scots died after a cardiac arrest outwith hospital last year.
The installation of nearly 1000 of the easy-to-use defibrillators in dental practices is aimed at reducing this figure.
The machines will be mapped on to the Scottish Ambulance Service control system to enable ambulance call handlers to direct the public to the practice while an ambulance is on its way.
Dr Robert Donald, chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: “Only five per cent of people who have a cardiac arrest in the community survive, however, when defibrillation is delivered promptly, survival rates can be as high as 75 per cent.
“As there are around 1000 dental practices across Scotland, dental teams have the potential to save many lives by increasing public access to defibrillators. In a situation where every second counts, we’re pleased the government has backed our campaign to widen access to a defibrillator.”
The BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee has been calling on the government to support the initiative since last year.
A defibrillator can be used by members of the public to deliver an electric shock to the chest as quickly as possible to restore a person’s heart to a normal rhythm after a cardiac arrest.
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “Every second counts when someone’s heart goes into cardiac arrest and having access to a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death. It is only right that the public have more access to its life-saving potential in any public places.
“There are almost 1000 NHS dental practices in the centre of Scottish communities. By giving them this equipment we are providing 1000 more chances to save a life.”