Lives have been put at risk by heartless vandals who damaged an emergency device bought by a local charity, rendering it unusable.
The automated emergency defibrillator has only been installed outside the toilets on Boston Road Recreation Ground for a matter of weeks, as part of Sleaford and District Round Table’s SHOCK Sleaford campaign.
Christian Slingsby, who has been leading the initiative to install the life-saving units all over town and surrounding villages, discovered the damage on Friday morning when he went to do some maintenance.
He said the yobs have smashed in the perspex screen of the box containing the defibrillator. In doing so they have disabled the keypad needed to punch in a code to access the device in an emergency to help give someone a better chance of surviving a heart attack.
A frustrated Mr Slingsby said: “If they vandalise these things it could cost someone their life. The buttons are not working so you cannot put the key code in to get the defibrillator. Now we will have to use money to repair it that should have been spent on more defibrillator units around the town.”
He had no idea when the damage had been done and said: “It worried us about putting it up here, but we thought we would give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Steve Pratten, community response manager for East Midlands Ambulance service, which supports the SHOCK Sleaford defibrillator scheme, said: “I was shocked and appalled to hear of such an incident of mindless vandalism which has taken a piece of life-saving equipment off-line.
“We have been working closely with the SHOCK Sleaford campaign to get as many defibrillators into Sleaford area as possible and make this a heart-safe area to live.
“Set backs like this are disappointing, we now have to get new parts for it and get the manufacturer to repair it, taking time and money and taking a defibrillator off-line for an indeterminate amount of time.”
A Lincolnshire Police spokesman said they were investigating the circumstances, adding: “It is a grave thought that this mindless act could potentially mean this device is out of action when it is needed in a life or death situation. We would appreciate any information via 101.”
n See page seven to read about more defibrillator issues in Sleaford.