Training day on NHS bus gives staff knowledge and confidence to use a defibrillator

Published: 26 Sep 2023

When it comes to health and safety, Stiller Warehousing and Distribution prides itself on its forward-thinking approach.

One of the most instantly recognisable names on Aycliffe Business Park has the coveted gold award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), demonstrating that it leads the way when it comes to keeping its staff and the public safe.

So when health and safety manager Darren Holliday became aware of a state-of-the art NHS training bus MELISSA (Mobile Educational Learning, Improving Simulation and Safety Activities) during the pandemic, he came up with an idea that would not only put the organisation at the cutting edge of first aid training, but could potentially save lives out in the wider community.

Darren explained: “We have three defibrillators within the business, and I noticed they were popping up in more and more locations.

“I started thinking, ‘has anybody actually used one or practised with one?’

“I had become aware of the NHS MELISSA double decker training bus, which has a big screen downstairs and a classroom for practical exercises upstairs and we came up with the idea of getting the bus on site and giving our staff the knowledge and confidence to use a defibrillator.”

Darren enlisted the help of Linda Jones, director and specialist nurse practitioner at Occupational Health and Training Services (OHTS), which is located at The Work Place on Aycliffe Business Park.

OHTS was able to borrow some practice defibrillators from The Work Place, which offers a range of First Aid courses and carry out the specialist training day on the MELISSA bus within the Stiller site.

Matthew Stiller, the firm’s managing director, attended the training alongside other members of staff, demonstrating that the importance of health and safety goes all the way to the top.

The training was well-received and attended, despite the fact it was peak holiday season, and Darren is now looking forward to putting on similar training events in the years to come.

He added he would love to see the NHS MELISSA bus being promoted and dotted around other sites – especially as the NHS has launched a second similar training bus.

“It’s a really good idea and the fact they came here free of charge with this mobile classroom is brilliant,” he said.

Stiller’s on-site defibrillator is part of the local network of lifesaving devices and can be accessed by anyone who needs it in an emergency.

“We see the importance of it and it would be great to have more defibrillators everywhere,” Darren said.

“If we can take an hour of someone’s day to promote and instil confidence in people to use defibrillators, it will pay dividends.”

Stephen Cooper, mobile education project manager at NHS England Education North East, said since 2019, the MELISSA bus has been to more than 200 events across more than 40 organisations.

“We are very proud to support this great initiative in collaboration with Stiller Warehousing and Distribution and OHTS,” he added.

“There is a pressing need for more awareness across all sectors with understanding basic life saving techniques.

“This event will go a long way in helping to address this problem and we hope that by offering use of the MELISSA bus, we can contribute to the cause.”

Linda Jones, director and specialist nurse practitioner (occupational health) of OHTS, added: “Giving CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and using AEDs (automated external defibrillators) as soon as possible hugely improves the likelihood of survival in a cardiac arrest and really is easy to do – the emergency services would talk you through it over the telephone.

“However, attending sessions like this, which gives the opportunity to practice and have any questions answered will hopefully make people more confident and allow them to practice their technique.”