Heart attack widow slams Bunnings over defibrillator removal

By Shawn McAvinue, Vaughan Elder

The Bunnings management "put their foot down'' and forced staff to remove the defibrillator from the store and give it to a community group. Photo / iStock
The Bunnings management "put their foot down'' and forced staff to remove the defibrillator from the store and give it to a community group. Photo / iStock

A woman whose husband died of a heart attack in a Bunnings store says the Australian chain's stance to not have defibrillators at its stores is "darn right ludicrous".

Wellingtonian Sharron Gilmore, whose husband Peter died of a heart attack aged 62 in Bunnings Naenae in 2005, made the comments after the company's management "put its foot down" and forced its Dunedin staff to gift the store's defibrillator to a community group.

READ MORE:
Defibrillator has to go: Bunnings

Social club members from Bunnings Dunedin raised $1300 to buy the defibrillator about three years ago, after one of their colleagues died from a heart condition, but the company's management has since called for it to be removed.

A Bunnings staff member, who did not want to be named due to fear of disciplinary action, said Bunnings New Zealand manager Jacqui Coombes visited the Dunedin store on Wednesday.

The management "put their foot down" and forced staff to remove the defibrillator from the store and give it to a community group, ignoring a petition signed by staff to retain the life-saving apparatus.

"They said 'it has to go, it's not staying here'."

Ms Gilmore said she could not understand the company's stance on having defibrillators in store, which she called "darn right ludicrous."

Having them in store could save lives and would give Bunnings the chance to "look really good in public"

"Why are they turning their back on that chance."

It would not be costly for the store to install them in each store and train staff how to use them.

"It's a drop in the bucket compared to the huge profits these people make.

"I don't know what they are frightened of."

It was "very common" for people to have heart attacks in public places like stores and malls and given how busy Bunnings could get and how stressful shopping could be, its stores were a prime location for having defibrillators.

She did not blame Bunnings in any way for her husband's death in the store and believed a defibrillator, which were not common outside health care settings at the time, would likely have made no difference in any case.

In a leaked email, Ms Coombes said the defibrillator was removed because "as a group, we do not hold defibrillators at our stores".

"There are a number of reasons for this, including maintenance of the units and the availability of trained teams to operate the units," she wrote.

When contacted about the fate of the defibrillator last week, Bunnings NZ marketing manager Valerie Staley said Bunnings had "nothing further to add".

- Otago Daily Times

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