Vandals destroy life-saving equipment

ROTHER Council has slammed mindless vandals who destroyed a life-saving defibrillator installed in memory of a local man who lost his life on Bexhill Seafront.

During a pointless attack at Tea Beside The Sea café at The Colonnade, vandals scrawled graffiti on walls before ripping the defibrillator from its cabinet, destroying it and throwing it into the sea. The defibrillator – damaged beyond repair – was found washed up along the coast.

The equipment, used to treat cardiac arrest patients by delivering an electric shock, was purchased after fundraising efforts by family and friends of Alex Hall, a keen runner with Bexhill Runners who suffered a cardiac arrest on the seafront two years ago.

Despite strenuous attempts by paramedics and bystanders to revive him, Alex Hall passed away. Since his death, wife Lorraine and the couple’s family and friends have raised money for Public Access Defibrillators (PAD) in the hope that other lives may be saved.

They have so far raised enough for two PADs - the first was installed by the Rother District Council Coast Office on the Colonnade in the summer. A second will be installed at the Coast Bar once it opens following refurbishment.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) Clinical Operations Manager Tim Fellows said: “This was a thoughtless act which put lives at risk. Lorraine and her fellow fundraisers have dedicated a huge amount of their time and effort to raise vital funds for this life-saving piece of equipment. We hope that those responsible realise the seriousness of their actions and urge anyone with any information at all to come forward and contact us or the police.”

A replacement defibrillator, provided by SECAmb, is due to be installed at The Colonnade early next week.

Rother District Council Executive Director Malcolm Johnston said: “This was mindless vandalism which has cost residents £2,000 in graffiti clean-up costs and, more worryingly, put the lives of residents and visitors to Bexhill at risk.

“We are pleased to hear that SECAmb will be replacing the defibrillator and hope that, in the meantime, no one needs the life-saving equipment.”

Lorraine Hall has vowed to continue her fundraising efforts to provide more PADs for use in Bexhill and has invited anyone who wants to contribute to make a donation to the Alex Hall Memorial Fund c/o Bexhill Ambulance Station, 10 Beeching Road, Bexhill TN39 3LG.

Sussex Police is investigating the criminal damage, which was reported just before 2pm on Sunday, February 16.

Anyone who saw what happened or who has other information is asked to phone Sussex Police on 101 or email, quoting serial 753 of 16/2. Alternatively, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers free and anonymously on 0800 555 111.