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What value are you adding here?

Let’s start with some good news.  Following my recent foray into the world of first aid I decided that I’d rather like to become a member of St John Ambulance.  I love the idea that I can be useful in a situation where most would be helpless.  Being able to deal with a wide variety of ailments from a cut to a heart attack, and having the confidence to put that into practice, could make a major difference to someone’s life.

I’ve blogged about the whole SJA thing before, so I’ll cut it short to tell you that, tonight, I was accepted as a member.  Next up is the CRB check, then the induction and the training.  After that, I don’t really know yet.  It’s all a bit of a journey.

So here’s the bad news:

Having completed defibrillator training last week I was impressed at how incredibly easy it is to increase someone’s chances of survival by up to 35% by using an AED[1].  Not only do they analyse the patient, log the patient’s heart trace, shock when it’s required and talk you through the whole process, but they even talk you through basic CPR if you don’t already know how to do it[2].  A number of charities and organisations are working very hard to get AEDs in places where people tend to gather, including villages, train stations, city centres etc.  There’s one in our village, and two in our building at work.

So impressed, was I, that I thought, “oh my, that’s a shiny toy.  I wonder if I could get one to put in the boot of the car.”

This, dear reader, may come as a surprise: they’re not cheap.  I know!  Who’d have thunk it?!  A Phillips HeartStart HS1 rocks in at around £980 + VAT.

Sorry, what?  + VAT?  WTF?  Why the hell should people be paying 20% VAT on life saving equipment? That’s an additional £196 in tax.  Having talked about it to various people, the most convincing reply I heard was “the majority of organisations who buy them will claim the VAT back.”  Fair point, but I won’t.  The plethora of charities out there who have raised funds to buy AEDs for villages and so on won’t.  What does it matter?  Regardless of who buys the kit, it’s life saving gear.  I don’t have to pay VAT on the Jaffa Cakes or pizza that [potentially] got me into the situation that requires the AED.  It just doesn’t make sense.

So, being the concerned, politically active (*ahem*) citizen that I am I decided to raise a petition using the handy website that the previous government introduced.  You know the one, e-petitions.


“With a new Government in place a review is taking place of online services, including e-petitions.”

It continues:

“Existing e-petitions, submitted to the previous administration, will not be carried forward to the new administration as part of this process. E-petitions that were live at the time of the election announcement on 6 April, when the e-petitions system was suspended, will therefore not be reopened for signatures.”

To paraphrase, “piss off.”

So I can’t create a new petition.  I no longer have an easy way of presenting my concerns to my government, backed up by other voters.  I guess I’ll have to revert to the old fashioned method: to Facebook!

[1] Despite what TV might tell you, if you stop breathing you’re basically fucked.  If someone can get an AED on you within 4 minutes you have *up to* 40% chance of coming back.  For every additional minute that passes, your chances drop by about 10%.  Without an AED you’re properly fucked.  1 in 10 is an optimistic estimate.

[2] If AEDs are so easy to use, why bother with a training session?  Simply because if you know how to use an AED you can get on with the job a helluva lot faster than it would take if you sat listening to all of the instructions.  In the training sessions we were getting the pads onto the patient and were ready for analysis and shock before the AED had finished telling us to look at the pictures on the back of the pads.


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