Defibrillators to Be Installed at Local Train Stations

South Western Railway adding lifesaving equipment at all of its staffed stations

A demonstration of how to use the new defibrillators. Picture: SWR

March 15, 2023

All the staffed stations run by South Western Railway are to have publicly accessible defibrillators installed.

Among the station set to benefit are Brentford, Chiswick, Earlsfield, Putney, Queenstown Road, Raynes Park, Wandsworth Town and Wimbledon.

The charity was set up by Steve Wardle, an SWR operations trainer, and his family, following his son’s death from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.

Steve has worked for SWR for 38 years and, along with other members of Alex’s close family and friends, he set up the charity to help further understanding of SADS and prevent deaths from the condition.

Together with SWR Managing Director Claire Mann, Steve Wardle unveiled the Alex Wardle Foundation logo on car number 23, the age his son was when he passed away, of a Class 444 train.

The company is now investing over half a million in the programme which will see publicly accessible automated external defibrillators at all 154 of the staffed stations on its network by the end of the summer.

The defibrillators will be placed in protective cabinets as close as possible to the front entrance of the stations, to be used day or night in the event of cardiac incidents at or near stations.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) estimates that there are around 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the United Kingdom, and just 1 in 10 people survive.

During a cardiac arrest, every minute counts. The immediate use of CPR and defibrillators can double the chances of survival. Expanding the availability of these machines can, therefore, be lifesaving.

Station staff and local ambulance services will be provided with the codes to unlock the cabinets and access the machines, which they can provide to members of the public in an emergency.

Moreover, the locations will be added to ‘The Circuit’ – the BHF’s database. Once registered, a defibrillator is visible to NHS ambulance services who can direct 999 callers to its location so it can be used to help save lives.

A heating system will ensure that the defibrillators can maintain their normal operating temperature. A monitoring system will also send an alert if a machine malfunctions or the battery is low, ensuring it is always ready to use.

Claire Mann, Managing Director of South Western Railway, said, “I’m honoured to have unveiled SWR’s Alex Wardle Foundation train at London Waterloo alongside Alex’s inspirational father Steve, who has served the railway for so many years and whose foundation we are proud to support.

“Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome and other heart conditions can impact us all. As part of SWR's commitment to the local communities we serve, I’m so pleased that we are installing defibrillators at every single one of our staffed stations, which could very well prove to be lifesaving.”

Steve Wardle said:, “It is wonderful to see this vision come to life. Having worked on the railway for nearly 40 years, I am thankful of the railway family’s support. March 2023 will mark 7 years since Alex’s death and, although I am still a grieving parent, I feel proud of everything that we have achieved to support our community.

“This is such a momentous occasion and a showcase of everyone’s dedication. Defibrillators save lives and I hope that one day, if needed, it will save someone and their family true heartbreak. We are extremely grateful, and this is such an exciting opportunity.”

More information about the Alex Wardle Foundation can be found on its website.

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