How Small English Towns Are Turning Their Iconic Red Telephone Boxes Into Public Heart Defibrillators

With the need for public payphones growing lower by day, fact-finder Tom Scott (previously) traveled to a small town in England to learn the “shocking” news that their iconic red telephone boxes were instead going to house life-saving heart defibrillators. The defibrillators, which are provided and maintained by Community Heartbeat, include instructions for those who don’t know how to use the devices.

Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, help save lives: but they need to be in an obvious, easy-to-access, public place that’s protected from the elements. Conveniently, it turns out there’s a disused red telephone box sitting in the middle of a lot of British villages…

Scott also went to the local ambulance service to demonstrate how to use a defibrillator.

All of this might sound good in theory. But the question is: could a bystander with no medical training actually use one of these to save a life? To answer that, I’ve come to the headquarters of the East of England Ambulance Service who are going to let me try their training defibrillator. It doesn’t actually produce a shock, we just need to use it on a dummy, but it is as realistic a simulation as it’s possible to get.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.