This York phone box can now save lives

The refitted phone box in Duncombe Place, York. Photographs: Richard McDougall

York’s oldest phone box is now home to the city’s newest defibrillator.

Thanks to the Street Angels York, with some help from York BID, the Duncombe Place kiosk has been fitted with the life-saving piece of equipment.

It means any member of the public can access it in a medical emergency.

The Street Angels, a charity whose volunteers patrol the city centre on Friday and Saturday nights to keep people safe, paid for the defibrillator out of public donations.

“When we’ve needed to call an ambulance for anyone, we’ve quite often been asked to go grab a defib,” said Street Angel Chris Cooper.

“The defibs in York weren’t easy to get to. Then a friend told me they can go in an old phone box.”

Teamed up with the BID

Clear to see

So they contacted the York BID (Business Improvement District) who worked with them to adopt the Duncombe Place phone box. The BID then organised the refurbishment of the kiosk, giving it a deep clean, a full repaint and installing new defibrillator signs.

And now the defibrillator has been fitted into a locked cabinet inside the box.

Chris explained that anyone who called for an ambulance during a medical emergency in the city centre could be given the code by the operator that opens the box.

How the phone box used to look

The defibrillator comes with simple instructions. “It shows you where to put the pads,” Chris said.

“It won’t issue a shock unless you’ve got all the pads in the right place and it can’t detect a heartbeat.”

He said public defibrillators were an essential part of any major city, and they would like to install another in York city centre if they could raise the funds.

“They are a real-life saver.”

It was an eyesore

The Duncombe Place defibrillator

York BID Operations Manager, Carl Alsop, said: “When Chris told us about their brilliant fundraising initiative we wanted to help.”

He added:

  • The phone box had become dilapidated and a bit of an eyesore. which is such a shame considering how many international visitors take photos of it with the Minster as a backdrop.

    After the Street Angels adopted it, we said we’d clean it up, put in the signage and keep it maintained.

    Our rapid response city centre cleaning team also check the phone box daily to make sure it is looking it’s best and the defib is charged and ready.

    That means it will be ready to help save lives whenever it is needed.

You can donate to Street Angels York via their website. And they are looking for volunteers – they only ask for you to give up one night a month to patrol the city.

Find out more and donate via their website.

What is a defibrillator?

A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest. This high energy shock is called defibrillation, and it’s an essential part in trying to save the life of someone who’s in cardiac arrest.

Source: bhf.org.uk