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Sussex Heart Charity and Southern join MP Maria Caulfield to promote life-saving heart restarters

Press release   •   Jun 21, 2019 16:02 BST

Resuscitation Trainer Steve Morris demos heart restarter to (l to r) Southern's Head of Safety Mark Whitley, Sussex Heart Charity (SHC) Trustees Chair Mike Lewis, Maria Caulfield MP, SHC Vice-Chair Jason Palmer, Lewes Station Manager Andy Gardner

21 June, Lewes Station: The Sussex Heart Charity (SHC) and Southern Railway today demonstrated one of its life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at Lewes station in support of MP Maria Caulfield’s Private Member’s Bill to make it law that AEDs should be funded and installed in every school and sports centre.

SHC and Southern have installed the heart restarters at over 50 stations across Sussex, safeguarding the lives of millions of passengers from potentially fatal cardiac arrests. A passenger was successfully resuscitated at East Grinstead station in December using one of the SHC devices.

Cardiac patient Steve Morris, whose life was saved by an AED, showed how easy the device is to use in a demonstration on the platform. SHC provided funding for his training and equipment to become a qualified Community Resuscitation Trainer. (A link to Steve’s story about how his life was saved is below.)

MP Maria Caulfield said: “Simply put defibrillators save lives. Even in the short time it may take an ambulance to get to a cardiac arrest patient, without CPR or a defibrillator their chance of survival drops dramatically. Many people will not be confident or have the energy to perform CPR for any length of time, but a defibrillator gives instructions and does all of the work, meaning almost anyone can use them.

“I am grateful for the excellent work of Sussex Heart Charity and thank Southern Rail for recognising the importance of defibrillators and installing them in so many railway stations in Sussex.”

Terry Ayres, Chief Executive Officer of The Sussex Heart Charity (SHC) said: “It is a proven fact that early defibrillation saves lives. For every minute which passes while someone is suffering a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival decrease by 10%. A shock from an AED can increase chances of survival by 50%.

“Since 1987 we have promoted excellence in cardiac related care, funding equipment, education and research and supporting the cardiac rehabilitation service for those with heart disease and promoting resuscitation in the Sussex community.

“We are immensely proud of our achievements and would like to thank Southern and its parent company Govia Thameslink Railway for their help and assistance and hope that the public, railway passengers and staff take comfort knowing that Southern’s network is one of the safest in the country.”

Govia Thameslink Railway’s Head of Safety Mark Whitley said: “Heart restarters are real life-savers and we’re delighted to have them at so many stations in this county. In partnering with us, Sussex Heart Charity has provided more than half the devices that we’ve installed across our network, which is a fantastically generous contribution.

“Our ambition now is to put them in many more of our railway stations. This combined with Maria Caulfield’s excellent Private Member’s Bill will give the public the vital access we all need to this equipment.”

SHC launched the programme, the first of its kind, three years ago as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations and has invested £100,000 purchasing the AEDs and distinctive green cabinets for them to be mounted in. This pioneering project has created one of the largest concentrations of AEDs on any mainline railway network.

Both the SHC and Southern (Govia Thameslink Railway) are proud to know that our partnership is actively saving lives.

The Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP and the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, as well as Maria Caulfield MP, have all expressed their interest and admiration for this project.

On Saturday 29th December 2018, a member of the public was successfully resuscitated at East Grinstead railway station by an automated defibrillator (AED) ‘heart restarter’ funded by The Sussex Heart Charity.

The person suffered a cardiac arrest and had collapsed in the booking hall. A bystander used the defibrillator and administered chest compressions before an ambulance arrived.


Notes to editors:

Sudden cardiac arrest happens to approximately 30,000 people every year in the UK, and can strike anyone, at anytime, anywhere, without warning. The Sussex Heart Charity is an independent charity which supports care of the heart throughout Sussex.

If defibrillated within the first minute of collapse, the victim's chances of survival are close to 90 per cent. For every minute that defibrillation is delayed, survival decreases by 10 per cent. If it is delayed by more than nine minutes, the chance of survival in adults is less than 5 per cent. It is important for bystanders who witness the collapse of a sudden cardiac arrest victim to act quickly.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDS) are portable devices that check the patient’s heart rhythm. If a problem is detected, they send an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. If a person does not need the shock of an AED, the machine will not deliver a shock. It is not possible to hurt someone with an AED; they can only be used to save someone’s life.

No formal training is necessary to operate an AED in a medical emergency as they “talk” the operator through the necessary steps. These defibrillators will ensure that, should any of passengers suffer a cardiac arrest within the vicinity of one of these AEDs, station staff or fellow passengers will be able to administer lifesaving actions before the ambulance arrives.

Since 1987 The Sussex Heart Charity has promoted excellence in cardiac related care, funding the purchase of equipment, education and research, supporting the cardiac rehabilitation service for those with heart disease and promoting resuscitation in the Sussex community. The Sussex Heart Charity ( raises funds within the County of Sussex for the county of Sussex.


Matt Denison - The Sussex Heart Charity (t)01273 523026

Roger Perkins – Southern Railway, GTR press office; 0203 750 2031

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria,,,