32 defibrillators placed, a life saved and schools made safer: How one family is saving lives

PUBLISHED: 08:34 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:39 06 August 2018

Left: Katie and Arline Hursey. Right: James Hursey. Picture: Danny Loo.

Left: Katie and Arline Hursey. Right: James Hursey. Picture: Danny Loo.

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A Welwyn Garden City family’s charity has saved a life and put over 30 defibrillators in schools and public places since it started just over two years ago.

Katie and Arline Hursey with the defibrillator which is available outside the Tesco express in Moors Walk shops. Picture: DANNY LOOKatie and Arline Hursey with the defibrillator which is available outside the Tesco express in Moors Walk shops. Picture: DANNY LOO

Arline, 53, Dave, 55, and their daughter Katie Hursey, 15, created the charity DiPPs (Defibrillators in Public Places) after their son and brother James died.

On Thursday, September 10, 2015, James sent a text to his mum in the morning saying he had forgotten his keys and went up to bed as he had been working late at his apprentice job for British Premium Meats.

At 3.30pm Arline went upstairs to wake him up for his 6pm start at work and discovered that he had tragically died.

On April 23, 2016, the family including Arline’s sister Jude Temple sat down and decided to create the charity in James’ honour.

James HurseyJames Hursey

They had one goal in mind, to save one life, and they’ve accomplished that and so much more.

On Friday, July 1, 2016, DiPPs placed its first two life-saving defibrillators in James’ former school Sir Frederic Osborn School (SFO) and the SFO Sports Centre.

Since then they have gone on to place 32 defibrillators in schools and public places with three more ready to be placed. Already one life has been saved thanks to their efforts.

Club president Martyn Dicker, 56, had been acting as linesman when he collapsed at Chipperfield Corinthians’ Queen Street home ground.

The children learning basic first aid skills at the sport centre in Welwyn Garden City.The children learning basic first aid skills at the sport centre in Welwyn Garden City.

The grandfather had a cardiac arrest on the pitch and was saved by quick-thinking colleagues who used the on-site defibrillator to bring him back to life.

DiPPs had only put the life-saving machine in a few months prior to Martyn’s cardiac arrest.

Martyn told the WHT: “I’m happy to spread the word about the value of defibrillators.

“If I had been at home when I had the attack then I probably would have died because there wasn’t a defibrillator there.”

Katie and Arline Hursey with the defibrillator which is available outside the Tesco express in Moors Walk shops. Picture: DANNY LOOKatie and Arline Hursey with the defibrillator which is available outside the Tesco express in Moors Walk shops. Picture: DANNY LOO

Two other defibrillators, one attached to the Hursey’s house and one outside Setting Out in Hatfield, were both nearly used.

Every public machine that the charity places is registered with the ambulance service so that the 999 operator can inform you if there is one close by.

On both occasions the operator advised for the caller to go and grab the defibrillator but luckily they did not need to be used.

DiPPs is now aiming to put defibrillators in WGC and Hatfield town centres where they would be easily accessible to anyone.

The defibrillator which is available outside the Tesco express in Moors Walk shops. Picture: DANNY LOOThe defibrillator which is available outside the Tesco express in Moors Walk shops. Picture: DANNY LOO

Arline added: “Our plans for the future are to ensure that we place as many defibrillators in the area as we possibly can.

“There is a lot of footfall through both towns so it is key to make sure that they have them and that they’re in a public place where people can use them 24/7.”

Currently in WGC town centre there is one in Anytime Fitness and although it is open 24 hours a day only gym goers with a membership can get in.

MP Grant Shapps said: “Ensuring defibrillators are available everywhere could quite simply be a lifesaver, which is why I am enthusiastically supporting Arline’s campaign for Welwyn Hatfield.

Sir Fredric Osborn School headteacher Jed Whelan, DiPPs trustee David Hursey, Jame's sister Katie Hursey, sports centre manager Sam Harte, DiPPs trustee Arline Hursey and chair of SFO PTA Fiona Rowe with the two new defibrillators donated to the schoolSir Fredric Osborn School headteacher Jed Whelan, DiPPs trustee David Hursey, Jame's sister Katie Hursey, sports centre manager Sam Harte, DiPPs trustee Arline Hursey and chair of SFO PTA Fiona Rowe with the two new defibrillators donated to the school

“The equipment is simple to use, even for someone who has never operated a defibrillator before and so I have promised to help highlight the campaign to the local council and local residents.”

Following an inquest, James’ death was put down as Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS) but since then his parents have undergone tests which revealed that Arline has Brugada syndrome, which James’ may have had.

Brugada syndrome is a rare but serious condition that affects the way electrical signals pass through the heart and can cause the heart to beat dangerously fast.

Speaking of James’ death Arline said: “Day to day we get by but we still find it a struggle and take our time to grieve when we need to.

One of the two new defibrillators donated to Sir Fredric Osborn school by DiPPsOne of the two new defibrillators donated to Sir Fredric Osborn school by DiPPs

“Sometimes I’ll see something that reminds me of James while food shopping or seeing someone wear something he would of worn and it will set me off.

“We hope he is looking down on us and is really proud of what we have done.”

The charity’s next big event is the annual seven-a-side Football Tournament on September 16, and the family is encouraging teams or girls and boys to sign up by visiting https://www.facebook.com/dipps4james/ and sending them a message.

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