A WINCHESTER dentist and a handful of medical officials have grouped together to see as many defibrillators as possible installed at dentist surgeries throughout Hampshire.

Nick Forster, of St James’ Dental Practice, and five other colleagues, have set up the NHS England Community Defibrillator Scheme in a bid to allow public more access to life-saving equipment.

“Around 30,000 people have a heart attack every year,” he said. “Just 18 per cent of them survive which means 24,000 people don’t every year. That’s probably about 500 people in Hampshire alone. With defibrillators we can save about three quarters of those people but people don’t have any access to them. They don’t know where are and by the time the ambulance has arrived maybe six minutes have passed and they are vital minutes.”

Mr Forster said part of the scheme is to also provide useful information to the public when they phone the emergency services. When the caller contacts 999 to report a heart attack they will be given the location for the nearest box and the code to access the defibrillator before they are told what to do while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

It is hoped around 130 boxes will be installed across the county.

“The whole idea of the scheme is to provide more to the public,” Mr Forster added. “In Winchester there are 15 dental practices and our scheme gives the dentists a grant to put them outside the surgery and to install it.”

The importance of the life-saving equipment was highlighted earlier this year when a Mountbatten school pupil, Sam Mangoro, from Romsey was saved when trained staff members responded after he suffered a sudden attack.