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Adopted red phone boxes transformed into life savers


BT sponsors defibrillators in disused kiosks

BT is funding the installation of defibrillator equipment, which can help save the lives of cardiac arrest victims, into five decommissioned red phone boxes adopted by rural communities.
Working with the Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT), a charity that makes possible the provision of defibrillation equipment for local communities, BT is paying for the equipment and installation of the specialised life saving machines into five kiosks around the country.

The first kiosk to be fitted with the defibrillation equipment funded by BT is in Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire. It is the 1,500th red phone box adopted by a local community in the UK.

Available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the defibrillation equipment is secured in the kiosk in a high visibility yellow, vandal-resistant, heated steel cabinet, which can be opened with a combination code available from the emergency services by calling 999.

The defibrillator machine talks the user through how to administer the treatment with step-by-step spoken instructions, for example, telling the user to apply the pads to the casualty’s chest. The machine analyses the casualty to determine if they are suffering from a cardiac arrest. If required, the defibrillator delivers a powerful, but controlled electric shock to restore normal heartbeat to the sufferer. It will only administer a shock when it diagnoses a cardiac arrest sufferer needs one.

BT introduced its Adopt a Kiosk scheme in 2008, in response to requests from local councils and residents. It allows a community to retain their local red BT phone box, with the payphone taken out, by buying the kiosk from the company for just £1.

Sheila Jeffery, Cotswold district councillor and representative on Health Scrutiny, said: “We are very pleased that Lower Slaughter’s kiosk is the 1,500th in the country to be adopted and I know the residents are most appreciative of BT’s generous offer to fund the defibrillator equipment. Lower Slaughter is a very beautiful, but very busy Cotswold village, with a large number of visitors every year, and the kiosk really could help saves lives in the future.”

Andrew Gravells, cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, Gloucestershire County Council, said: “These little machines are literally life savers. I’m now on my very own second implanted cardiac defibrillator, which controls a serious heart rhythm condition, so I know at first hand just how important these lifesaving pieces of equipment are. I’m so grateful to BT and everyone else whose work has resulted in this fantastic new use for this former phone box.”

Up to 200,000 people a year in the UK suffer from a sudden cardiac attack making it one of the UK’s largest killers. The faster a victim gets medical help, the better the chances of survival. The availability of a defibrillator machine greatly increases the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. With CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) alone, the survival rate is around five per cent, but defibrillation and CPR increases the chance of survival to up to 50 per cent.

Martin Fagan, national secretary of the Community Heartbeat Trust, said: “We are immensely grateful to BT for their help in this novel use of a familiar icon, phone boxes are ideal locations for emergency medical equipment because they’re often in the centre of a village.

“With something as serious as a cardiac arrest, time is of the essence, and unfortunately the emergency services can’t always reach country villages in the recommended five minutes. We hope that many more people will adopt their kiosk and enlist our help to save lives in rural communities.”

The Adopt a Kiosk scheme has captured the imagination of people up and down the country. Apart from the defibrillator kiosks, boxes have been turned into art galleries, public libraries, exhibitions and information centres, even the villagers of Ambridge in BBC Radio 4’s long-running drama The Archers have adopted their kiosk.

John Lumb, general manager for BT Payphones, said: “The most fantastic thing about the Adopt a Kiosk scheme has been how communities across the country have become involved. Red phone boxes have become a focal point for all sorts of activities of real value to the local community. It’s so gratifying to see our old rarely used boxes given a new lease of life.

“Over the years, many people have said that their local phone box was a lifeline for them, now that everyone has a phone at home or a mobile that’s no longer true, but kiosks fitted with defibrillator machines are a genuine asset to their community and could be real life savers in the future.”

Payphone use has been falling for many years, at its peak in 2002, there were 92,000 phone boxes on our streets, but their numbers have been declining with BT removing them in response to the drop in use. Calls from payphones have fallen by more than 80 per cent in the last five years.

There are now 11,000 traditional phones boxes across the UK out of a total number of 51,500 kiosks. The numbers of red and modern kiosks are set to continue to shrink, as BT cuts their numbers to match demand. BT has recently written to parish councils across the UK inviting them to adopt their local kiosk and safeguard it from removed.

Payphone facts and figures

Architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed the first incarnation of the world famous red phone box for a competition in 1924. This design, the K2, was introduced in 1926, predominately in London. In 1936, Scott refined his design for the famous K6 introduced nationwide to celebrate George V’s Silver Jubilee. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott also designed Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, and Battersea and Bankside (now Tate Modern) Power Stations in London.

The K2 kiosk is 9’3" tall (2.7 metres) and weighs in at one and a quarter tons (1,270 kilograms). New they cost £35.14s.0d each.

The K6 kiosk is 8’3” (2.4 metres) and weighs in at three quarters of a ton (762 kilograms).

At their peak in 2002, there were 92,000 payphones across the UK, now there are 51,500 public payphones (including 11,000 red boxes) on the street and 11,000 payphones on private sites like railway stations, airports and shopping centres.

100,000 calls are made each day from public payphones; just three per cent of adults used a payphone in the last month. The number of calls made is falling by 25 per cent each year and 64 per cent of phone boxes lose money.

Successful new ideas, which have helped phone boxes pay their way, include advertising on 20,000 modern kiosks and combining Wi-Fi and cash machine services with both modern and traditional red phone boxes.

Images of the defibrillator machine in the adopted BT red phone box will be available from midday on July 11, 2011. Other images of red telephone boxes are available
on request.

Case studies are available about the uses of adopted kiosks, including an art gallery, book exchange and for a defibrillation machine.

Enquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369.

All BT news releases can be accessed at:

Notes to editors

• For more information about Adopt a Kiosk, including a kiosk checker and application forms, visit the BT Payphones web site at:
• For examples of adopted kiosks see: and
• In 2009, BT ran a competition to find the most innovative use of a red kiosk with a £5,000 prize for the winner, see:
• When BT wants to remove a phone box it follows rules set by Ofcom. For more information see:
• BT has a duty, known as the Universal Service Obligation (USO), to provide a reasonable number of working phone boxes where they are most needed. For more information visit:

About the Community Heartbeat Trust

Community Public Access Defibrillation (cPAD)

CHT is a registered charity that supports the cost effective installation of life saving defibrillation equipment into local communities.

CHT is working with key stakeholders and ambulance services across the UK to establish community defibrillators. It works with members of the public, local councils and relevant charities to provide equipment that is robust, vandal-resistant, safe and manufactured to the appropriate standards. It can also arrange training to a national standard through recognised training organisations. CHT relies on public donations for funding.

For more information visit


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