By Adam Cailler
IT was one year ago this week that the Jewish Telegraph launched its campaign to see all Jewish organisations invest in a lifesaving defibrillator.
Thanks to the generosity of the communities in our regions, an extra 80-plus locations now have a machine.
I admit that I never expected the campaign to take off — unlike editor Paul Harris, who knew the impact the paper could have.
It began as a plea for leaders to spend just £650 (plus vat) to potentially save lives after 13-year-old Melissa Bickerdike suffered a heart attack during a barmitzvah in July, 2017, at a Manchester venue that did not have a defibrillator.
Her life was saved by the quick-thinking actions of a guest, who administered CPR until an ambulance arrived.
The Manchester Beth Din, along with Manchester Hatzola, backed the campaign, as did the Manchester Jewish Representative Council.
It took many phone calls, emails and meetings, but it soon became apparent that fewer than half of the organisations we originally canvassed actually had a machine.
All but two — one in Manchester, one in Liverpool — were more than happy to be added to our list of those who would like one.
The two who refused said, “well, it won’t ever be needed, so why should we get one?”.
It seems the entire point was lost on them, and they still do not have a machine today.
We hope none of the defibrillators ever has to be used, but just having so many organisations equipped with the machines makes this campaign worthwhile.
The campaign has been beneficial to all ages. Kindergartens, such as Habonim Nursery and T’mimei Lev, now house the machines, while Manchester King David Yavneh Girls campaigned hard for the one now situated proudly in its hallway.
The Fed’s Heathlands Village has not one, but two on-site, while countless synagogues have at least one.
Hatzola, which has also placed several machines through private donations to the campaign, has received two donations of units for its own use in recent months. They will be used by new volunteers.
Hatzola’s Nusi Burns has also been teaching first aid at schools and community groups.
I am confident that more young Jewish people than ever before are now aware of how to save lives.
Thankfully, most organisations and venues in Liverpool, Leeds and Glasgow already had a defibrillator, but there are still places in all three of those cities on our waiting list — as well as several from Manchester.
Speaking of which, our waiting list is growing ever larger, while our number of donors has slowed.
Do we really need to make a plea for new donors when it’s as simple as this — every single machine donated could equal a life saved.
As our communities grow ever older, a defibrillator becomes increasingly vital.
I’ve been taken aback by messages on social media and WhatsApp, as well as people stopping me at events, football matches and even in the street and restaurants to tell me how great they think the campaign is.
I’ve had people thank me and the Jewish Telegraph for their shuls now having defibrillators.
It’s heartwarming to know that this idea has really sparked something in UK Jewry.
We’ve even had one donated to a synagogue in Israel!
Thanks also to BOC Healthcare, who supply the defibrillators and have made it far easier to organise than I ever imagined.
This campaign — a personal project of mine — will not stop until every single place in our community has a lifesaving defibrillator.
Thank you to everyone who has supported it so far, and thank you, in advance, to anyone who wishes to support it in the future — you will not regret it.
* For more about the Jewish Telegraph defibrillator campaign, call 0161-740 9321 (Ext 227) or email email@example.com or direct message @acailler on Twitter.