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Partnership makes life-saving equipment accessible to public

Two men and two women standing by a defibrillator on an outside wall.

A life-saving defibrillator has been fitted to the outside of Spence Street Sports Centre thanks to the support of local heart charity, the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust (JHMT).

Leicester City Council’s public health team has been working with the trust and East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) to identify the locations of publicly accessible defibrillators in the city, so that any gaps can be filled.

The Spence Street area was identified as part of this work, and the equipment has now been prominently located on the front of the city council leisure centre to make it accessible to the local community all day, every day.

Rob Howard, director of public health at Leicester City Council said: “We believe Leicester is the first city to take this approach, following research that highlighted the need to ensure all communities have equal access to this life-saving equipment in all parts of the country.

“We already have defibrillators in all of our primary and secondary schools, and thanks to the support of the JHMT they are in city parks and inside our leisure centres. This new installation at Spence Street will be the first of many new community-accessible defibrillators we aim to put in place to cover gaps in provision."

Deputy city mayor for public health Cllr Sarah Russell said: “Someone in the UK dies every 20 minutes following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Immediate CPR and defibrillation within three to five minutes of collapse can lead to survival rates in excess of 50%. “

“We are therefore calling on organisations who have static defibrillators on their premises to make them accessible to everyone. If this could be done, many of the gaps in provision across Leicester would be filled or at least reduced, and survival rates from cardiac arrest in the city would increase.”

The city council is talking to other organisations, community groups and businesses in the city to ask them to consider fitting or moving defibrillators outside their buildings to make them available 24 hours a day.

It’s also asking people who look after defibrillators within the city and county - in places such as offices and shopping centres as well as in public places - to register them on a pioneering database called The Circuit: The national defibrillator network. This can be done online at

The external cabinet which will keep the defibrillator safe has been donated by the JHMT, which works with sports clubs, schools and community groups to raise awareness of sudden heart deaths, particularly in young people.

The trust was set up in memory of Leicester teenager Joe Humphries, who collapsed and died while out jogging near his family home in Rothley  in October 2012. Joe was a victim of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) – a group of lethal heart diseases which can cause sudden cardiac death in young people.

Mike Ferguson of JHMT, said: ”Sudden cardiac-arrest can strike anyone of any age, anywhere and anytime, including seemingly fit and healthy young people. It’s vitally important that publicly accessible defibrillators are readily available in case of a cardiac emergency, and that people learn how to use them and how to give CPR. Being prepared is key to saving lives.”

As well as providing free CPR and defibrillator training, the JHMT works hard to raise awareness of sudden heart deaths (SADS), helps to provide community defibrillators and runs Inspire, a local grants scheme for inspirational young people in the city and county.

To find out more about the work of the Trust, apply for training and support, or to help out with the charity's work, visit the website at



Photo left to right: Mike Ferguson, JHMT; Sharon Mann, city council pubic health team; deputy city mayor Cllr Sarah Russell; Kareem Abouraia, Spence Street leisure centre attendant.

Notes to editors:
The Joe Humphries Memorial Trust (JHMT) is a charity set up in memory of Leicester teenager Joe Humphries, who collapsed and died while out jogging running near his family home in Rothley, Leicestershire. Joe was a victim of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) – a group of lethal heart diseases which can cause sudden cardiac death in young people.  Since then, his family and friends have worked tirelessly to campaign for a better understanding of sudden, unexpected death in young people, and have campaigned for compulsory CPR training in schools and defibrillators in schools, community venues and sports clubs.

SADS facts:

  • 12 young people aged 12-35 in Britain die each week from SADS - undiagnosed heart problems.
  • If CPR is started immediately, and done effectively (by a trained person with the victim lying flat) and a defibrillator can be used within eight minutes, the majority of people could be saved, without brain damage.
  • The majority of deaths related to the condition are the result of undiagnosed irregularities or abnormalities of the heartbeat, which are known as arrhythmias.
  • Most SADS cases have a genetic origin, with cases tending to come to light in teenage years and the early 20s.
  • Screening is available – if a problem is detected it can be monitored and treated.
  • Every minute lost without CPR reduces the survival rate by 10%.
  • Only 7% of UK people have first aid skills, compared with 80% of people in Scandinavian countries.
  • There are 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year and 27,000 do not survive the event (10% survival).

The installation takes place during SADS awareness week – 2-8 October – which is held every year during the week of the anniversary of Joe’s untimely death. It’s organised by the JHMT in collaboration with University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust.