Thieves steal lifesaver

Ash and Sandie Hammond spearheaded the fundraiser for the AED stolen recently from Horahora Road.

Another AED (automated external defibrillator) has been stolen from a secure lockbox, this time at Horahora Road.

The stolen AED is one of two installed on roadside driveways in September 2021 after residents, concerned at living at least 20 minutes’ drive from help in the event of a medical emergency, raised around $6000 to cover the cost of both devices.

Ash Hammond and his wife Sandie, who have both been ambulance officers with Cambridge St John for about eight years and who spearheaded the fundraising effort, are gutted.  They had also donated two specialised oxygen masks, used in cardiac events, placing one in each of the AED lockboxes.

Ash said the theft from the driveway at 937 Horahora Road was discovered late last month when a passer-by who knew the couple spotted the open lockbox without the AED inside.  She called Ash to ask whether it had been used.

The broken lockbox and stolen AED in Horahora Road.

“The lock was broken, and both the AED and the oxygen mask had gone,” Ash said.  “We tracked it to see whether it had been activated, but it hadn’t.  Anyone needing to use an AED for its intended purpose has to call 111 to get a code.  That didn’t happen.  The AED is used to deliver a shock in the event of a heart attack… it has no application in any other situation.”

Ash said there would be barriers associated with any attempt to on-sell an AED.  It would be unlikely anyone would purchase one from a random individual, and parts of the device, including pads and batteries, need to be replaced every two years.

“This seems to have been a theft just for the sake of it.  A lot of generous people helped raise the money for that AED – it is unlikely they will be able to raise funds to replace it,” Ash said.

Police were informed of the theft as soon as it was discovered, and it is understood Putaruru police are investigating.

Heartsafe Cambridge chairman/secretary Henry Strong said thieves have left another an out-of-town community vulnerable.

Last August, an AED was stolen from a secure lockbox attached to a wall at Tauwhare School.  Henry said a new AED was installed at the school last week, paid for by an insurance claim, with the excess covered by the Tamahere Lions Club.

“The AED at 937 Horahora Road was placed there as part of a project Ash did to place one at each end of Horahora Road.  Ash did the fundraising for the AEDs and Heartsafe Cambridge helped subsidise the lockboxes and AED road signs,” he said.

Read: More AEDs added.

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