UPDATED: Senior paramedic condemns vandalism of life-saving defibrillator in Hawick

A senior paramedic has warned that wanton vandalism to a vital piece of medical equipment in Hawick could ultimately cost someone their life.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 1:02 pm
Ruth Hutton, where the defib was vandalised at the Masonic Hall in Hawick. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

A defibrillator located outside the Hawick 111 masonic lodge in Commercial Road for the past three years has been removed after it was vandalised and put out of action for a third time.

The lodge’s committee took the decision with a “heavy heart” after coming to the conclusion that they could no longer meet the continuing costs of its repair.

The latest attack, just over a week ago, is believed to be the act of wanton vandalism.

The covered up defibrillator before it was removed.

The actions of whoever was responsible for the damage caused could prove fatal, said Ruth Hutton, a Melrose-based advanced paramedic practitioner.

Ruth said: “I live in Hawick and I have family that live nearby that defibrillator. They are essential in a cardiac arrest. The best chance of survival is through good CPR and early defibrilliation.

"It is just disgusting because it could cost somebody their life, pure and simply, if it is not there and they are in a shockable rhythm and need early defibrillation.

"You cannot always have an ambulance in Hawick, the whole nature of them is they are away doing other life-saving things, so there can be a wait and it is essential to have them here – local and accessible.”

Ruth, who is trustee with the Jedburgh-based Jed Hearts Here defibrillator fundraising charity, added: “These defibrillators are often supplied through the community from someone who has sadly lost someone.

"I know Wendy Brown in Hawick through Avril’s Trust provided a lot of defibrillators because she lost her sister tragically in her thirties due to cardiac arrest.

"In Jedburgh the ambulance service and fire service started that Jed Hearts Here charity because Jedburgh had no public access ones.

"Vandalism such as this impacts on someone’s chance of survival by deliberately targeting something which could save their life. I don’t know if it is just ignorance or just bloody bad behaviour.”

Hawick masonic lodge secretary Stewart Donaldson said the committee had decided “enough was enough”.

He added: “The casing was smashed and the defibrillator has now been removed. It has been damaged three times and it was decided enough was enough.

"We don’t think the lodge has been targeted, we just feel it is mindless vandalism. There has been quite a bit of vandalism in the area.

"It is with a heavy heart that we are having to do this. It has been used twice before, unfortunately the last time it was used earlier this year it wasn’t successful and the chap died.

"There were various options, one of which was to bring it inside the lodge for the members use and for users of a dementia cafe but we decided no, it defeats the purpose doing that. We spoke about getting a new one and putting CCTV on it but it was a case why do we need to do that in this day and age.

“It is disheartening but it was costing us money so we decided to take it down. It was given to us by Scottish Hart, based in Selkirk, and they understand the decision and are very sad about it. We may look at getting a portable one for inside the lodge.”