An urgent appeal has been made for the return of a potentially life-saving heart defibrillator which has gone missing in Penrith.
Volunteers noticed that the machine — located at the junction of Drovers Lane and Scotland Road — was missing during a recent equipment check-up.
Fiona Johnson, chairwoman of the Fairhill Community Group, said: “It’s possible that it has been actually used as it should be used in an emergency.”
However, she said if it had been taken as a fun thing or a bit of vandalism that was clearly of concern.
“It’s the nearest defibrillator for that particular community area and it just means that in an emergency somebody’s life will be at a greater risk as a result.
“Either way, whether it has been used properly, or whether it has been taken unlawfully, it would be great to have it returned,” said Fiona.
She said Eden councillor Deb Holden was very instrumental in getting the defibrillator installed and helps co-ordinate the team of volunteers who look after and check the equipment on a regular basis.
“I think it was on one of their patrols that they found it had gone missing,” said Fiona.
Mrs Holden said: “We are not quite sure what has happened here, but we do need to try and find it.”
Martin Fagan, national secretary for the Community Heartbeat Trust charity, said: “Community defibrillators are there to save lives. If one is used, it must be returned so it can be recommissioned and made available for saving another life.
“Regrettably sometimes these are not returned, which means a life may be subsequently be lost.
“Plus the high cost of providing a new one.
“The missing defibrillator at the Scotland Road kiosk is one such site.
“If anyone knows the whereabouts of this, please return it to the police, ambulance service, local GP surgery, or call Community Heartbeat on 0330 1243 067 to let us know where to collect it.
“Defibrillators are there to save lives, but they depend upon members of the public to return them after use.”
At this moment in time, Mr Fagan said they have no evidence that it has been stolen, but Cumbria police will be informed as a matter of course.
He added that ambulance services are concerned as well that these public resources are not being maintained and returned after use.
Cardiac arrest is said to kill 60,000 people per year in the UK and having public access defibrillators can help save lives, if used quickly, and with chest compressions.
Hence the placement in local public places so that lives can be saved. The heart degrades by 20 per cent per minute after an arrest, so you only have about a five-minute window to save that life.
The Community Heartbeat Trust, which relies on donations, is the UK’s leading charity in the provision of community defibrillators (cPADs).