THE TRAGIC death of mother-of-two Lianne Harris sent shockwaves through the borough when she died following a cardiac arrest while on a funfair ride with her daughters in Sheldon Country Park in September.
Her untimely and heartbreaking death has, however, inspired the fair operator – Robert Wilkinson Fairground – to do its bit to ensure it does all it can to make sure the same thing never happens again.
The fair has teamed up with The Big Top Neighbourhood Watch Roadshow and West Midlands Ambulance Service to acquire a life-saving defibrillator and give its staff and volunteers emergency life-saving treatment training
Last month, the Trust’s Community Response Manager Andy Jeynes visited Pipe Hayes Park to train more than 30 staff and volunteers from the fairground and roadshow in basic life support and how to use an automated external defibrillator – a device used to help restart the heart of someone in cardiac arrest.
The Trust has donated a defibrillator together with a training defibrillator whilst the British Heart Foundation has provided The Big Top Neighbourhood Watch roadshow with resuscitation dummies and a training DVD to enable them to hold training sessions to members of the public.
The fairground and roadshow, which tours Birmingham and Solihull between March and November, has around 80 staff, volunteers and fair family members on site and regularly see 3,000k fairgoers a day through the gates.
Mark Jastrzebski, Chair of The Big Top Neighbourhood Watch Roadshow, said: “Last year, a woman sadly died after suffering a cardiac arrest at the fair and despite the best efforts of ourselves and ambulance staff we couldn’t save her.
“Whilst the ambulance service praised us for everything we did that day, we felt we needed to do more so we contacted Andy to find out about getting a defibrillator.
“Not only do we want to help save lives but we also want to raise awareness about learning CPR. The training we’ve had has been great and the defibrillator is so easy to use.
“Now that we’ve got the kit to help train others, we’ve launched The Big Top awareness training initiative so that each Thursday we can train members of the public in first aid and basic life support. The more people we can train the better.”
Robert Wilkinson, owner of Robert Wilkinson Fairground, added: “Having a defibrillator on site and being trained in how to save a life is something very unique as I don’t think it’s ever happened on a fairground before.
“Our first aiders have been trained by Andy in how to use the defibrillator and how to do CPR.
“If anything was ever to happen on the fair, I know we’ve got people trained who can make a difference.
“That’s what it’s all about. We hope the defibrillator is never used but it’s a good feeling to know it’s here. It’s a very positive thing to come out of a very negative and tragic incident.”