Life-saving defibrillators installed at all Southeastern train stations across the South

Lisa, Laura, Seb and David (L-R): Southeastern’s Lisa Taylor, Laura McMahon, Sebastian Szymanski and David Wornham announce the roll out of defibrillators to every station on the Southeastern network Credit: Southeastern

Live-saving defibrillators have now been installed at every station on the Southeastern network including in Kent, and parts of East Sussex.

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), which provide verbal step-by-step instructions on how to give a high energy electric shock to someone in cardiac arrest, have been rolled out to 164 stations and 17 depots.

According to the British Heart Foundation, more than 30,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of hospital every year, with the survival rate less than one in 10. If a defibrillator is administered within the first minute of someone collapsing, the survival rate can be as high as 90%.

David Wornham, Passenger Services Director at Southeastern, said: “One of our key objectives at Southeastern is to get everyone home safely every day and having defibrillators at every single one of our stations will play a key part in that. This is such an important project as we know how vital it is to have defibrillators close at hand when an emergency occurs.

They will be available at all Southeastern train stations.

“It is vital to have them in accessible public places. At train stations, they can be used by staff, customers or members of the public nearby. If someone is in cardiac arrest, the first thing to do is dial 999. The operator will be able to talk the caller through where their nearest defibrillator is and provide a pin code to access it from a secure cabinet.

“No training is required to operate these defibrillators – the unit will talk you through exactly what you have to do. I can understand some people may feel hesitant in using an AED but they really are very easy to operate. We have staff who have saved passengers’ lives with a defibrillator so we know how vital they are.”

Southeastern colleagues Laura McMahon, 33, and Sebastian Szymanski, 45, were working at Maidstone East station when a customer ran into the office saying a man had collapsed suddenly and was having a heart attack in the car park.

Laura McMahon and Sebastian Szymanski used a defibrillator to save the life of a member of the public at Maidstone East station. Credit: Southeastern

Passenger Stuart Legg had been on a day trip to London with his fiancée but had returned early, not feeling well and thinking he had indigestion.

Laura explained: “When something like that happens the adrenaline just takes over. I grabbed the defibrillator and Seb and I headed to the car park where another passenger was already performing CPR.”

The pair dialled 999 but before paramedics could arrive, they were able to use the defibrillator to save Stuart’s life.

Seb added: “I put the phone on loudspeaker so we could follow the instructions being given to us. The defibrillator talked us through what to do and was so easy to use. It analyses the patient’s heart rhythm and will only deliver a shock when needed. Neither of us hesitated to help because in that kind of situation, you just do what you need to do.”

Thankfully the situation ended happily with Stuart making a full recovery. Having grown close to his partner Natalie, Laura has been invited to attend their wedding.

Stuart said: “I became ill very suddenly, suffering a near fatal cardiac arrest as I came off the train. If it wasn't for the swift actions of the staff and the use of the newly fitted defibrillator, I wouldn't be here with my family today. They saved my life – they are heroes. This piece of equipment is essential and could save other people’s lives, as it did mine.”