“Applying a controlled shock with a defibrillator within 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest provides the best chance of that person surviving.”

When a person’s heart stops pumping blood every minute that passes decreases their survival by 10%.

Applying a controlled shock with a defibrillator within 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest provides the best chance of that person surviving.

Would you know what to do? And do you know where in Orkney defibrillators are located?

Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is when the heart stops and person falls unconscious.

The person may:

  • appear not to be breathing
  • not be moving
  • not respond to any stimulation, like being touched or spoken to

What can you do?

Call 999 Immediately

It may take some time for the emergency services to arrive and every minute counts.


To carry out a chest compression:

  1. Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.
  2. Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5-6cm on their chest.
  3. Repeat this until the ambulance arrives.

This advice applies to an adult. For more information on CPR follow these links: CPR on a child  CPR on a baby


A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest. They are designed so that anyone can use one – you do not need special training. There are clear instructions on how to attach the defibrillator pads. It then assesses the heart rhythm and will only instruct you to deliver a shock if it’s needed.

Defibrillator in Tesco Kirkwall, Kenny Armet

Defibrillator in Tesco Kirkwall

There are several places in Orkney and in communities across Scotland where defibrillators are located. (Full list of those in Orkney which are registered with the Scottish Ambulance Service at the end of the article)

The Scottish Ambulance Service are encouraging businesses and communities to register their Defibrillator(s) with the Service.

Craig Hunter, National Community Resilience Manager, said:

“Public access defibrillators (PADs) can be found all over Scotland in places such as schools, community centres, leisure facilities, shopping centres and transport hubs.

“They are vital pieces of equipment in the crucial early minutes following a cardiac arrest before an ambulance arrives. The key factors in determining survival from Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) are early, high quality CPR and defibrillation.

“All patients who have a survivable cardiac arrest require CPR and the majority also require defibrillation, both of which must be applied in a matter of minutes in order to be successful. The interplay of these key elements forms the ‘Chain of Survival’ which a person must successfully pass through in order to go home from hospital neurologically intact.

“The Scottish Ambulance Service recommends that all custodians register their PADs with the Scottish Ambulance Service at https://pad.scottishambulance.com to ensure that they are available to save lives in an emergency.”

A spokesperson for Orkney Islands Council told the Orkney News that OIC has 17 defibrillators registered with the Scottish Ambulance Service – one in the main Kirkwall offices (School Place), and the remainder at schools around Orkney.

“The defibrillator in OIC offices School Place, Kirkwall  was purchased/paid for by the Council. All the other defibrillators were  very kindly donated to the Council by the Orkney Heart Support Group, who have also donated housing cabinets so that the defibrillators at schools can be located on the outside of the school buildings. ”

Locations in OIC buildings 

The defibrillator in the Council Offices in Kirkwall is based in the Customer Services area.

“Sixteen schools in Orkney have defibrillators registered with the Scottish Ambulance Service”

  • Glaitness Primary
  • Kirkwall Grammar School
  • Papdale Primary
  • Stromness Academy
  • Stenness Primary
  • Orphir Primary
  • St Andrews Primary
  • Hope Primary
  • Evie Primary
  • Eday Primary
  • Rousay Primary
  • Burray Primary
  • North Walls Community School
  • Stronsay Primary and Junior High School
  • Westray Primary and Junior High School.

In addition, Shapinsay Primary has been donated a defibrillator which will be fitted and registered with the Scottish Ambulance Service once works at the school are completed.

What about other places in Orkney?

Historic Environment Scotland have a defibrillator at Skara Brae. They are also in the process of installing them at Hackness Martello Tower and Battery, Hoy and the Brough of Birsay, West Mainland.

A spokesperson for HES  stated:

“We regularly undertake risk assessments at our sites which includes assessing whether a defibrillator is required. When a site does not have one, it is because it is within close proximity to a public defibrillator.”

“The defibrillators are designed to be used by anyone, therefore, no specific training is required. However, all First Aid qualified staff members who have been trained within the last 18 months received defibrillator training. We are also exploring training for other members of the team to ensure all staff feel confident using them.”

Asked about other First Aid Training in Orkney the spokesperson added:

“First Aid risk assessments are completed frequently, and staff are regularly trained, including refresher training. There is no nominated main First Aider at the sites, although a number of staff have completed extended first aid training sessions.”

The British Heart Foundation report that in a recent survey, three quarters of people said they wouldn’t feel confident enough to act if they saw someone having a cardiac arrest.

Although defibrillators are designed to be used without training there are many people who would be reticent about using one. It must be stressed that if you do have to use one you will be talked through it step-by-step by the emergency services operator when 999 was called. It would also be of invaluable help if more people were familiarised with their use through groups and organisations they are members of.

The Scottish Ambulance Service is committed to increasing the number of known Public Access Defibrillators (PAD) (sometimes known as Automated External Defibrillator (AEDs)) sites within Scotland.  It is important that they know where these are located and that they have been registered. There are 41 defibrillators registered in Orkney.

List of all the defibrillators in Orkney registered to date with the Scottish Ambulance Service (there may be others but these are the ones registered)


The Old Kirk, Hoy, Situated at rear of Old Kirk Heritage Centre [adjacent to Hoy Outdoor Centre]

North Walls Community School, Lyness Next to main school entrance door.  Box is visible but no signage as yet.


Flotta Community Centre, The AED is on the outside wall of the Centre beside the front door and is accessible 24 hours a day


Deerness Community Centre, The far left hand door of the DCC has a notice stating “Defibrillator”.  The door is permanently open to the public and the machine is inside the cupboard.

Deerness Community Hall, Deerness, On outside wall

Toab, Deerness

St Andrews Primary School, Toab, Deerness The cabinet is located outside the main school entrance on the wall.

North Ronaldsay

Pier Waiting Room, North  Ronaldsay, Pad in Cabinet within Pier Waiting Room

Airfield North  Ronaldsay, Pad in Cabinet within Airfield Waiting Room

Lighthouse Laundry Room, Lighthouse, North Ronaldsay, PAD located in Laundry Room by Lighthouse Cottage 2  a short distance from the entrance of the Lighthouse. Laundry Room unlocked and access 24hrs a day 7days a week.


Eday Hostel, Eday , In clearly visible illuminated green cabinet on outside wall of hostel

Eday Hostel, Eday , just up from airport Adjacent to Scottish Fire & Rescue Building. Green lit cabinet. Centre of the Island. 

Eday School, Eday, Outside Eday School in clearly visible illuminated green box


EMEC Ltd, Old Academy, Stromness, At new entrance to building, next to bike shelter, the cabinet is illuminated.

Stromness Golf Club, Ness Road, Stromness, Stromness Golf Club main entrance, inside front door on left hand side


Kirkwall Police Station, Burgh Road Kirkwall, Inside main entrance to Police station

Orkney Golf Club, Grainbank, Kirkwall, Inside players’ foyer, entry via door around back of the clubhouse.  Attached to the wall next to the payphone

Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, Crowness Rd, Hatston, Kirkwall, Front Reception Fish Factory Main Building

EMEC Ltd Unit 2, Warness Park, Kirkwall, At rear door of Unit 2, Warness Park….cabinet is illuminated

SSF Workshop – Commercial Unit, Sparrowhawk Road, Hatston Ind Est, Kirkwall Location code on outside of cabinet is AAV88. Located on roadside external wall of the building, clearly visible from Sparrowhawk road.

Council Offices, School Place, Kirkwall, Customer Service Front Desk

Kirkwall Grammar School,The Meadows, Kirkwall, Reception desk inside the building

Kirkwall Grammar School, The Meadows, Kirkwall, On wall outside the entrance to the PE Corridor

Papdale Primary School, Willow Road, Kirkwall, Staff Room In a red tray marked Defibrillator

Highlands and Islands Enterprise, 14 Queen Street, Kirkwall, main office

Glaitness School, Pickaquoy Road, Kirkwall The defibrillator is in a cabinet on the wall to the right outside the main entrance to the building – the main entrance is located at the rear of the school building.  Our co-ordinates are 58.9817° N, 2.9706° W.  The cabinet code is C159X.

Scottish Natural Heritage, Eastbank, East road, Kirkwall, In SNH main office, on bookshelf in right hand corner next to the photocopier.

St Ola

Scottish Sea Farms Regional Office, Scapa, St Ola, Location reference on the outside of the cabinet is AAV84. Located on outside of Scottish Sea Farms building, by main entrance.

St Margaret’s Hope

St Margaret’s Hope Pier Trust, Pier Road, St Margaret’s Hope Outside the Harbour Master’s Office at the Weighbridge.  This is a small flat roofed building with a large window on the front.  It is the last building on the left hand side of the Pier Road.

Hope Community School, School Road, St Margaret’s Hope, external wall on community school facing road


Rousay Community School, Rousay, Community corridor

Rousay Primary School, Rousay, outside main entrance to the school.


Stenness Community School, Stenness, Community Hall Kitchen


Burray school, Burray, In the school at reception.


Evie Community School, Evie, Positioned in a heated external cabinet on the gable end of the Evie School building opposite the car park.


Westray Junior High School, Pierowall, Westray, Outside Healthy Living Centre inside a Yellow Defib box


Dounby Community School, Dounby On outside wall( in the new Defib Store 1000)  facing community football,rugby pitches


Stronsay Junior High School, Stronsay Outside on school hall wall facing main road, near the bottom of the ramp to the front door.


Birsay Hostel & Campsite, Birsay, At the back of the hostel facing onto the campsite outside wall of drying room entrance


Shapinsay School, Balfour, Shapinsay At the front of the school building near the tennis court, facing the road.


Harray Community Centre, Harray On wall next to front entrance of hall.  Can be seen from the main road.


Skara Brae Visitor Centre Historic Environment Scotland, Sandwick On the left hand wall of the visitor centre entrance.

Defibrillator Tesco Kirkwall Kenny Armet

Defibrillator Tesco Kirkwall

See also: Orkney Heart Screening Facebook Page

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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