WEST Oxfordshire is set to be one of the best-equipped areas in the country to help cardiac arrest victims with a new initiative to roll out life-saving defibrillators to every town and parish.

The district council's cabinet has given the go ahead for a £27,000 scheme to offer towns and parishes funding towards their own Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Working with South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), the initiative is complementing a generous donation by an anonymous donor who has given enough funding to pay for AEDs to be installed in 24 of the district’s towns and parishes.

Some of the AEDs funded by the donor, whose life was saved by a defibrillator, have already been installed and further locations are yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, the scheme will enable the remaining 30 towns communities with funding to help purchase their own.

Every town and parish will have the chance to receive 50 per cent of the money to buy and install an AED, which usually costs up to £1,800.

Councillor Mark Booty, cabinet member for health, said: “These kits can mean the difference between life and death and are of vital importance, particularly in rural areas like ours that can be affected by ambulance and emergency response times.

“Together with the equipment so generously donated, we are confident that our district will have the highest level of defibrillator coverage in the country."

Chipping Norton is one of the towns which is already fundraising for defibrillators.

Two AEDs have been purchased and installed by the town's Lion's club while a third has been ordered and a fourth is in the pipeline.

Mike Graham, Lions club member, said: "They are lifesavers. It's quite vital for most rural communities to have them. They are so simple to use, just a little bit of knowledge on the background to them is all that's needed."

Under the scheme, CPR training will be provided in association with SCAS to communities and local people will be trained to give initial care should a cardiac arrest occur.

Dick Tracey, divisional responder manager for SCAS, added: “When someone goes into cardiac arrest time is of the essence.

“Having these machines, particularly in the villages, will significantly increase chances of survival.”