When was the last time you used a pay phone? We’re guessing it’s been a year or two. It seems a waste to just discard old phone booths, especially in the UK where bright red booths have been iconic fixtures since King George V’s silver jubilee in 1936. Fortunately, some clever Brits devised a solution that preserves the phone booth and protects community members from the dire consequences of sudden cardiac arrest. That’s right, these phone booths are now home to public access AEDs.
The project was created by the Community HeartBeat Trust who work to provide affordable public access AEDs. The Trust provides support for communities who want to convert their phone booth into a home for an AED. The process is fairly simple as the AED is simply installed and then the phone box is locked. When a rescuer calls 999 (the UK version of 911), they are provided a code that unlocks the box and allows them to access the AED. This is a great feature as it cuts down on theft, which can be a problem when an AED is kept in public.
Villages across England have participated in the program, and now a Welsh village named Devauden has followed suit. The local villagers have raised money for the AED in a variety of ways including hosting garden viewings. Having a public access AED is especially important for small villages like Devauden who do not have their own paramedic services. Response times are lengthened as EMTs must come from a neighboring area. One of the Devauden supports, Kevin McElroy, states, “The goal is to put defbrillators into communities where ambulances can’t get there on time. If we can improve the chances for cardiac arrest patients it will be a great thing” (Source).
The United States does not have the same cultural connection to phonebooths, but we would love to see a similarly creative solution for implementing AEDs in public places in our country.