THE Border Telegraph and Peeblesshire News have launched a new Heart of the Community campaign, supporting local efforts to save lives by installing defibrillators in every community in the region.

As we have previously reported, the Borders is already the Scottish capital for surviving cardiac arrests.

Since 2014, survival rates have soared from four per cent to 29 per cent (the Scottish-wide figure is 16 per cent).

But we want to go one better and see the region become the world leader.

Sweden and Seattle currently top the table with 30 per cent.

We’re teaming up with local groups and individuals to spread the word – raising cash and awareness.

Every year around 3,000 people in Scotland are treated by ambulance crews for an ‘out-of-hospital’ cardiac arrest – when the heart stops pumping blood around the body.

Public access defibrillators give sufferers a high-energy electric shock which, if used in time, can save the patient’s life.

There are currently 268 of the devices across the Scottish Borders, but we want even more to be installed.

Retired local paramedic Colin Baxter has been campaigning to improve survival rates for the past four years.

He told us: “I started my campaign in 2014 after my wife Rae was diagnosed with cancer. I went onto flexitime as a paramedic which gave me more time to work on improving cardiac arrest survival rates.”

Sadly, Rae passed away in 2016 – but Colin has continued his quest to see difibrillators installed in every town and village in the Borders.

He explained: “When I started, survival rates in the Borders were only between four and five per cent and there were only between 20 and 30 defibrillators. 

“Last year the survival rate stood at 29 per cent, which is so close to the world leaders Seattle, in the USA, and Sweden, who have both achieved 30 per cent.

“It would be great if we could reach that target or, even better, if we could beat it.

“Defibrillators are so important. If someone has a cardiac arrest you have eight minutes to save their life – for every minute after that, their chances of surviving go down by 10 per cent.”

Kelso-born Colin, who worked in the medical profession for 37 years, has played a major role in the campaign – installing and maintaining defibrillators around the region.

The dad-of-two added: “There are a number of groups working in the Borders such as Scottish HART, Avril’s Trust and Kelso Heartbeat.

“A defibrillator costs around £1,250 and more and more have been installed over the past few years. For example, every Mason’s club in Scotland now has one, as does every primary school in Selkirk. 

“The batteries last between four and five years and can deliver up to 500 shocks. The pads can only be used once.

“As part of the campaign we also want to make sure everyone has the confidence to use a defibrillator. In an ideal world we would have one on every street corner, but our objective is to make sure we have one in all the wee towns and villages in the Borders.”

If you want to raise money for a difibrillator in your community, Colin is happy to offer advice. Call him on 07968238091 or email

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be bringing you more coverage as part of our Heart of the Community campaign. And we’d love to hear from you on the subject.

Has a defibrillator helped save your life? Are you raising money to install a defibrillator in your community? 

Get in touch with us, email or call 01896 758469.