It’s still missing... but was town defib’ actually stolen?

Town mayor Coun Angela Birchall with a defibrillator
Town mayor Coun Angela Birchall with a defibrillator

Mystery continues to surround the disappearance of vital life-saving equipment from Horncastle’s Market Place - and it could mean council tax payers are almost £2,000 out of pocket.

Police originally indicated a defibrillator -used to treat people suffering from a cardiac arrest - had been stolen from outside the Lincolnshire Co-op’s pharmacy in the early hours of August 7.

They said a witness had seen a ‘drunk woman’ carrying the defib at around 3am that morning and they appealed for information.

But last week, police said they had re-classed the incident as a ‘no-crime’ .

They said that Steve Pratten, from the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) confirmed the defib was taken to A&E along with a patient and then was unaccounted for after that.

However, EMAS denied that was the case. A spokeswoman for EMAS said that the defib had been used by a member of public in a ‘genuine medical emergency’.

She added that the person had rung 999 to get the access code to unlock a secure cabinet which houses the defib.

The spokeswoman added it is usual policy for the member of the public to return the defib to the cabinet. If a medical professional attends the scene,they will take the defib away.

She confirmed the equipment has to be re-set before it can be used again.

She said that, in this instance, the defib had not been returned to the cabinet. She stressed it would be wrong to speculate what might have happened to it.

She said Mr Pratten, who is EMAS’ Community Response Manager, had made lengthy checks to ensure the equipment defib was ‘not in their possession’.

The News contacted Lincolnshire Police again and a spokeswoman issued the following statement.

“Our log has been closed as ‘no crime’ after a Mr Steve Pratten from EMAS confirmed that the defib was taken to A&E along with a patient and then was unaccounted for after that.

“Unless there has been a subsequent complaint logged by EMAS at a later date (which I can’t find) there is no evidence to suggest the defib has been stolen and a crime committed.”

The defib’ cost around £1,800 and was paid for by Horncastle Town Council, using money raised by the income they receive via its annual precept from council taxpayers.