Long Wittenham in Oxfordshire was the first village in the UK to have its red phone box refurbished under the scheme, courtesy of free paint from British Coatings Federation member HMG Paints. The local Parish Council took advantage of BT’s ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme and adopted their iconic red phone box for just £1. With 50 percent funding from the Parish Council and 50 percent raised from villagers, it took no time at all to raise the £2000 necessary to install the defibrillator, which can deliver vital medical treatment in the first crucial minutes following a cardiac arrest. Richard Schofield, of Community HeartBeat Trust, who had the original idea behind the scheme, said, “There are thousands of phone boxes in rural locations throughout the UK, and many of them are sitting idle. Over the next five years, we’re aiming to encourage the UK’s rural communities to install a defibrillator in their local phone box, with the aim to create a national network of two and half thousand defibrillators.”
Inside the phone box, in place of the telephone unit, the defibrillator is housed in a lockable steel box. When someone calls 999, they will be told there is a defibrillator in the local phone box, and will be given the code to open the box. Once the electrode pads are attached to a casualty, the defibrillator will identify if a ‘shock’ is needed and will instruct the rescuer using step-by-step voice instructions.
The British Coatings Federation’s members will provide a paint system of undercoat and traditional red topcoat (worth £75) to every local community that installs a defibrillator in their phone box. BT will take on board the cost of maintaining the electricity supply to the phone boxes, so the equipment will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.