AS A community first responder John Wheat knows well the value of defibrillators in providing potentially lifesaving early intervention for people suffering cardiac arrest.

Mr Wheat, from Ringland, Newport, reckons he has used a defibrillator “maybe 10 times” during his seven years in his role providing vital early back-up at call-outs to homes and other locations ahead of the arrival of paramedics.

But it is a piece of kit he always carries on call-outs in the Newport area and he believes schools, railway stations and all major public buildings should have one on the premises, and that provision should be extended to locations such as supermarkets.

Mr Wheat is backing the Jack’s Appeal campaign being run by the South Wales Argus and the parents of Jack Thomas, who was 15-years-old when he died in February 2012 after suddenly falling ill while watching rugby on television.

We are looking to raise money to help Jack’s parents Grant and June Thomas — who have already raised thousands of pounds toward heart screening in schools — fulfil their wish of providing a defibrillator for every school in Gwent.

“It’s a great idea,” said Mr Wheat, who also knows the pain of losing a child suddenly.

In September 2008 his stepson Ryan Jones, who had been diagnosed with benign epilepsy, died in his sleep at home, aged 11.

“There are moves to get more defibrillators in public places,” said Mr Wheat. “I’d love to see them in places like supermarkets, which can be very busy and a lot of them are open 24 hours.”

Mr Wheat, whose first call-out was to a cardiac arrest at the old Tesco store in Spytty, is among more than 1,300 community first responders across Wales, and one of around 40 in the Newport, Caldicot and Chepstow first responders group who put in more than 18,000 hours of coverage during 2013 and had a total of 999 call-outs between December 2012 and January this year.

l Anyone wishing to make a simple donation to Jack’s Appeal, or donate the proceeds of a fundraising event, can send cheques payable to cardiac charity Welsh Hearts, either to its headquarters at Temple Court, 13a Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HA, or to Newsdesk, South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN.

Please write ‘Jack Thomas defibs appeal’ on the back of the envelope.