POLICE have confirmed that a defibrillator box smashed-open in Annan last weekend was breached for a medical emergency.
The cover for an automated external defibrillator (AED) located outside SPAR on Butts Street was shattered between 3 pm last Friday, March 26 and 8.30 am the next day.
Following recent incidents which left the same life-saving machines at the Station House and Atwals convenience store temporarily out of use, it is the third AED that has been bust-open in the town in as many months, sparking speculation online that the vandals had returned to strike again.
Read more: Anger as second defibrillator damaged
Initially reacting to the incident, John Steel, head of the town’s defibrillator committee, called it “just another episode of mindless vandalism to property belonging to the people of Annan”.
He added: “Some people may think that the defibs are just sitting there in case they are needed, but in reality every one of the Annan defibrillators have been taken out in response to a 999 call at some point – and one of them has been taken out five times.”
But staff at SPAR said after viewing CCTV that it appeared the screen was broken in response to a “genuine emergency”.
They added: “I think people have seen it smashed and assumed the worst, but I think it was a genuine emergency somebody took it for.”
This was supported by local officers investigating the incident, who said: “It does appear that the defibrillator was taken to be used by three youths who had witnessed a woman in a state of collapse in Newington Road, and as such it was therefore not a crime on this occasion.”
The police therefore concluded it was “a bona fide use of the device”.
And in an unlikely turn of events, another defibrillator half a mile away on Station Road was accessed on the same day in response to a suspected heart attack — signifying the importance of having the machines dotted throughout communities.
Cody Harding, who rushed to get the AED at the Station House last Friday, said: “If the defib wasn’t there, it could have ended differently. Thank goodness it wasn’t used but it was on hand just in case.”
He added that the man he helped is “now at home resting”.