Remembering, Honouring, and Serving
As Germany bombs London, Manchester, Liverpool, Belfast, and Glasgow,
Brits rise to the tremendous challenge of defeating the Nazis.
(Photo by Celia Dibblee Packe. Her father, Edward Packe, the AILO,
is on the right. Packe served in both world wars.)
We remember and honour all those men and women at home and around the world who gave their lives to defending freedom. We also honour those who survived and created new life. Among these was Frank Pantridge:
Absolutely cool under fire, Frank Pantridge serves as a medical officer during World War II, and helps to save the wounded while under continuous bombardment. Captured, and sent to the notorious slave labour camps on the Siam-Burma Railway, he survives almost certain death.
Many British prisoners of war had died of fatal cardiac beriberi. Back in Britain, Pantridge turns his attention to cardiac disease, which was reaching epidemic proportions in the 1950s. Unimpressed with the current state of care, he is aware that the majority of coronary deaths result from ventricular fibrillation, a disturbance of the heart rhythm, which can be corrected by applying an electric shock of momentary duration across the chest. Unfortunately most patients suffering ventricular fibrillation do not get help in time.
In 1965 Pantridge produces the first portable defibrillator. He powers it with car batteries, installs it in an ambulance, and creates the pre-hospital coronary care unit now known as the Pantridge Plan, which has been adopted around the world.
Pantridge also develops a smaller defibrillator that can be kept at home or placed next to public fire extinguishers, and incorporates a fail-safe mechanism to ensure the defibrillator does not deliver a shock unless the lethal arrhythmia is present. Applying his defibrillator early prevents massive heart damage and premature death for hundreds of thousands.