Servicemen saving lives, that's what matters

Servicemen saving lives, that's what matters

Marten Jan Talens, VodafoneZiggo

A serviceman has come to fix something at a customer’s house. The Wi-Fi connection is not working properly. Suddenly he hears ‘beep, beep!' in his trouser pocket. A text from the resuscitation alert system of the 112 emergency control centre. Someone in de neighbourhood has suffered a cardiac arrest. The serviceman rises, gets in his AED-equipped van and immediately drives to the location. An extraordinary action? Not for many of our employees.

As VodafoneZiggo we sponsor Ajax with large sums of money. In order to save human lives by means of AEDs (electrical ‘heart starters’) we only need a fraction of this amount. That money is invested in training colleagues in the use of the device – and in the AEDs themselves. On the day I’m writing this, a serviceman has just carried out a resuscitation. The twelfth, since we started with the training and have the AEDs installed in the service vans.

It all started two years ago on the employee party to celebrate the merger of Vodafone and Ziggo. There, the slogan was used 'What we do matters'. But, we asked ourselves as a team, what do we really contribute to society? Gertjan Hamstra, serviceman in my region Western Netherlands and member of the Rescue squad, came up with the idea to equip our servicemen’s vans with an AED. Combined with the knowledge how to use it.

I thought it was a great idea. If there is one thing that 'matters', it must be saving lives. And our servicemen pay one million house calls a year, all together. Throughout the entire country. There is a fair chance that some find themselves in the vicinity of a person in need of resuscitation. I decided to go ahead with the plan in my region as a start, because enthusiasm outside the team was rather weak.

Under the label measurement equipment I purchased twelve AEDs. Within two days we had a list of more than 100 servicemen who wanted to follow the resuscitation course. In their own time. The Heart Foundation helped us with the screening of the participants and provides after-care upon actual use of the AED – for example by means of a group app and professional care if needed. After all, it is quite something when you have come to the rescue of someone with a cardiac arrest.

We started on 1 June 2018: National Resuscitation Day. Twenty-five servicemen set out in their vans equipped with an AED. That number has increased to seventy-five by now. And the good thing is, they want nothing in return. No logging of overtime – not for training sessions, not for the emergency assistance given. Which some of them already had to do; they not only deployed the AED but also secured an ambulance was on its way.

Resuscitation by means of the electric shocks applied by the AED is mainly a matter of playing for time. The first six minutes after a cardiac arrest are crucial. If resuscitation is applied during that time span, the chances of survival are significantly higher. Whether or not the people our servicemen attended on eventually survived, we don’t know; as soon as the ambulance arrives, the paramedics take over. But without our help, they would have died for sure.

In the meantime, more and more colleagues are attending the AED training – amongst whom my own director and people from the board. It makes me proud. We also receive appreciation from customers and non-customers upon noticing the sticker on the van. Of course, it’s odd when the serviceman suddenly takes off. But by far the majority of people react like the customer at whose house this recently happened: "What am I making a fuss about? Saving someone’s life is more important than my Wi-Fi connection."

Marten-Jan Talens, former regional manager West Netherlands

Every year approximately seventeen thousand people suffer a cardiac arrest outside the hospital. The number of civilian emergency assistance providers has risen by more than a third last year to 225,000 people. The number of registered AEDs has increased by more than 45 percent, to nearly eighteen thousand. On average, civilian emergency assistance providers reach a victim 2.5 minutes before the emergency services. They can bring an AED and start the resuscitation process. (Source: Heart Foundation)