A LIFE-saving defibrillator has been installed outside Rugby College thanks to a fundraising appeal in memory of a former student who died earlier this year.
Jamie ‘Jay’ Rees suffered a cardiac arrest on New Year’s Day and passed away on January 5 at University Hospital Coventry at the age of 18.
There was no public defibrillator nearby and he was brought back by CPR, but his brain had been starved of oxygen and he never woke up.
His family have since raised over £15,000 to fund the purchase and installation of Publicly Accessible Defibrillators (PADs) across Rugby.
The first of the defibrillators has been installed at Rugby College – where Jamie had been studying a plumbing course.
The installation is the first of 12 planned in Rugby – with Jamie’s family hoping to install the life-saving equipment at every secondary school in the town.
Jamie’s mum Naomi Rees-Issitt said: “The first defibrillator being installed at Jay’s college is very close to our hearts, it just means everything to us. Jay is the inspiration for everything we have done.
“Jay’s friends did everything they possibly could to save him. If a defibrillator had been closer and accessible on that awful night, Jay would have had a chance of survival and our beautiful boy may still have been here with us today. He is missed terribly by everyone.
“We will continue to raise awareness for more outdoor accessible defibrillators in Rugby and will continue to fundraise in memory of our precious boy. This happened to Jay when he was just with his friends having fun – he wasn’t playing sport, running or doing anything that may affect his heart – so it is important to us that people realise that a cardiac arrest can just happen, without any warning or signs.”
Students at the college have put together a tribute to Jamie in his memory, and hosted a raffle which raised a further £6,260.
“That is enough for five more outdoor accessible defibrillators in memory of our precious boy,” Naomi said. “We appreciate every single ticket that was purchased. You are all such kind, generous, thoughtful people.
“But above all, well done to our Jay for being so amazing that people wanted to support us in his memory. I truly wish that he was here to see what he meant to everyone.”
The installation of the defibrillator at Rugby College was completed free-of-charge by electrical contractor Top Marks Electrical – which is supporting the effort to install defibrillators in other areas of Rugby.
“We are so grateful to Lewis of Top Marks,” said Naomi. “Without him, we would not be able to get these defibrillators installed so quickly.”
A Rugby Borough Councillor and St John’s Ambulance volunteer – who knows all too well the consequences of not being able to find a PAD when a life depends on it – has been supporting the family’s efforts to fund-raise and identify locations for the defibrillators.
Coun Wayne Rabin was a bystander in an incident where a cardiac arrest victim could not be resuscitated because a defibrillator could not be found – and was left wondering whether he ‘could have done anything more’.
He said: “This defibrillator installation is in a vital location at a large college and within a growing community. While continuing to support Jamie’s family with their fundraising, I’ll keep persuading more pubs, community groups, schools and shops to re-site existing machines externally or install new ones. Basic CPR knowledge is important.
“I’m also working with Rugby First Responders to organise CPR awareness events around each new installation, which includes Rugby College.”
Coun Rabin has also been working with other organisations across the town to increase the amount of externally accessibly defibrillators in the area.
Simon Philpott, Assistant Principal at Rugby College, said: “We were shocked and deeply saddened when we heard the news about Jamie in January. He was much-loved and valued member of our college community.
“The tribute to Jamie here at the college shows just how highly thought of he was amongst his peers.
“The college fully supports the campaign to install more defibrillators in Rugby and are committed to helping to raise awareness in the town on how, and when, they should be used.
“We’re very pleased to have this piece of life-saving equipment installed at the college.”
Further defibrillator installations are being planned at Ashlawn School and the Steam Turbine pub on Barnaby Road.
Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ourjay donate to the fund-raising campaign.