THE community of Cutcombe, on Exmoor, can thank eagle-eyed resident Sybil Williams for improving the chances of survival of anybody who suffers a medical episode in the remote village. 

Ms Williams, a retired hospital theatre sister, spotted an article in her daily newspaper inviting community organisations to apply for funding through the Department of Health and Social Care’s community defibrillator scheme.

Her newspaper cutting was passed to the village’s Moorland Hall and recreation ground trustees secretary Sally Parish, and an application was made.

Now, the Moorland Hall is home to a defibrillator available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Ms Williams said: “Living where we are, and having a village hall used by organisations holding meetings with lots of people, plus passing ramblers, cyclists, motorcyclists, and more, I thought it was worth having a go at getting a defib for everybody to use.”

The trustees were delighted to discover they had been chosen to receive a 50 per cent grant toward the vital equipment.

They met the remaining £750 and the equipment was dispatched from London Hearts Charity, installed, and logged with The Circuit online register, which allows the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust to direct callers to the nearest unit.

Emergency call handlers determine if the defibrillator is required and issue the caller with a code to open the cabinet, which is located on the outside of the hall, enabling them to remove the unit and take it to where it is needed.

No training is required as the equipment talks the user through the process of using it, although the hall’s trustees plan to arrange a session offered by the Minehead Community Defib Group.

Ms Parish said: “Equipment like this has saved many lives, and when you live and work in a remote area like Exmoor, having easy access to something that could make the difference between life and death is incredible.

“We are so grateful to Sybil for spotting this opportunity.”

The installation, running costs, and regular maintenance will be covered by the hall trustees, who are also asking local businesses and individuals to help meet the remaining cost of the equipment by emailing [email protected].