Student, 17, left traumatised wondering if faulty defribillator might have saved man’s life in Fenland village

Student, 17, left traumatised wondering if faulty defribillator might have saved man’s life in Fenla

Student, 17, left traumatised wondering if faulty defribillator might have saved man’s life in Fenland village - Credit: Archant

The mother of a 17-year-old student who rushed to help a man who collapsed wants to know whether a faulty defibrillator her son rushed to get might have saved the man’s life.

Wendy Pedley said: “My son watched this gentleman pass away and is so very angry that because of a low battery he was not able to at least try to save a life.

“The people who were with my son are also disgusted.”

Ryan, a sixth form student at Cromwell Community College, Chatteris, was driving to school when he saw the man fall into a hedge.

“Ryan was the first stop and assist this gentleman,” said his mum Wendy.

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“He quickly got help, and CPR began. My son went to fetch the defibrillator from the village school. Luckily the head teacher was able to put in the combination to allow him to take it to the patient.

“The defibrillator was actually on the patient ready to be put in use but unfortunately it said low battery so was not able to be used.”

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She said; “This is totally disgusting as it possibly could have helped to save a life.

“I will be trying to find out who was responsible for making sure this life saving device is in working order.”

She said her son- who only passed his test a fortnight ago – was left traumatised by the incident.

“We may never know whether that defibrillator could have saved that man’s life. “Those precious seconds could have made the difference.”

Mrs Pedley said it was vital everyone got answers especially the family of the man who died.

“I will also be asking how you would know the combination to get the defibrillator if the school is closed.

“In times such as this incident you need to act quickly.”

Police were called to Whittlesey Road at 8.38am on Friday by the ambulance service.

A witness said: “A man collapsed in Whittlesey Road, Benwick, this morning.

“He was given CPR by members of the public who then went to retrieve the new community defibrillator they had installed only to find the battery was flat.”

One villager said: “These should be checked regularly, and we want to know who is at fault for not checking it was done.

“The defibrillator was brought down quick enough so could have saved his life instead we had to wait till one that came with the emergency services.

“I wish to send condolences to his family and my thoughts are with you at this time.”

This week the Community Heartbeat Trust charity issued a statement about the failure of the defibrillator at Benwick.


The Community Heartbeat Trust is saddened to hear of the failure of the defibrillator in a rescue at Benwick, Cambridgeshire during the week of 11th December 2017, and offers sincere condolences to the family.

The photograph in the Cambridge Times, Wisbech Standard, Facebook, Twitter, and others, indirectly implied the equipment had been supplied by the CHT, and actually showed a photograph of a defibrillator cabinet supplied by CHT to another community in Lincolnshire, and not to Benwick. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The photo has been withdrawn)

The CHT have no record of supplying any defibrillator to the school in Benwick, who we assume acquired from another source, but by virtue of the photograph in the media, it has been implied the involvement of CHT. This is not the case and we are politely asking the media to retract the implication made and issue a correction in all media, removing the photograph, (including the papers, Twitter and Face book) and an publish a retraction/apology.

When the Community Heartbeat Trust charity works with a community, or school, to establish a defibrillator, we ensure a full and complete Governance system is in place, and the community appreciates the responsibilities it has taken on, and it is communicated as to how the defibrillator should be activated. A good Governance methodology alerts communities to issues such as possible battery failure, out of date electrodes, and other issues. It also ensures the equipment is maintained correctly, and the community has reduced its liabilities.

We are able to offer Benwick this free Governance service if they require.

All defibrillators are medical devices and therefore are required to be checked and maintained in an appropriate fashion. The owners of defibrillators also have liabilities, insurance and duty of care requirements, to ensure the equipment works in a rescue, and failure of the device is a liability and breech of Duty of Care, and needs a full investigation.

Clearly in this instance the actual cause of the failure of the defibrillator has yet to be established, and will need a full and proper investigation. As part of this, the full provenance and maintenance requirements looked at, along with any policies and procedures the community has in place to support the equipment and to supply treatment for any traumatised rescuers.

If it turns out to be equipment known for failures, then this will need referral to the MHRA for a fuller investigation. CHT assesses all equipment to ensure the defibrillator equipment and the cabinet is suitable for use in a community, and does not place the community at risk. We find that communities most often do not understand or know the equipment they are purchasing, often just buying from the internet on price, and also fail to understand the liabilities, legal aspects and Governance requirements needed for a successful project. This is particularly true for schools.

In this instance we do not know the equipment involved, but we would be happy to share our opinion and any experiences we have on this equipment for the formal investigation and coroner enquiry We would also be happy to support Mr Ryan Pedley with some trauma counselling (at our expense) through our network of counsellors, should he wish this.

As an aside, we were unable to find the Benwick defibrillator listed on the East of England defibrillator list. Thus may be because the list is out of date, or could be due to the device not being registered.

CHT is the leading national defibrillator charity, and the only organisation focusing on Governance and best practice in community defibrillation.

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