PANTRIDGE 15-manufactured for Belfast by the Coleraine Instrument Company featured rechargeable ni-cad batteries which could deliver upwards of 70 shocks. weight 15 lbs.,
Dr. Pantridge is often referred to as the “Father of Emergency Medicine” or “Grandfather of Prehospital ALS”, and his plan was rapidly adopted in the USA and elsewhere. Hospital-based defibrillators were already being used in North America, but Pantridge doubted their impact, since data had shown that the majority of sudden cardiac arrests happened outside the hospital. It was known that most coronary deaths resulted from ventricular fibrillation (v-fib). He believed that immediate correction of v-fib could and should be done at the scene of the event. However, a major problem was that defibrillators of the time could only be operated using a main power supply. Using his research, he developed the first portable defibrillator: a svelte model that was powered by car batteries and weighed 70 kg.
With this new tool, the Belfast treatment system became adopted throughout the world. Pantridge believed defibrillators needed to be as prevalent as fire extinguishers, and that if non-physician responders could do CPR, then they could use defibrillators. To make the devices safer, Pantridge and his colleagues worked to improve the design, and, after harnessing a miniature capacitor manufactured for NASA, he was able to create a defibrillator weighing only 3 kg. Pantridge’s portable defibrillator would become a key tool in EMS, and, after further refinement, it has become the automated external defibrillator (AED), the cornerstone of response to cardiac arrests.
A 1967 editorial in the medical journal ‘The Lancet’ stated that Dr. Pantridge and his colleague at the RVH, John Geddes had revolutionised emergency medicine. However, it was not until 1990, almost 25 years after he installed the first defibrillator in a Belfast ambulance that Secretary of State for Health Kenneth Clarke announced £38 million was to be made available to equip all frontline ambulances in England with the equipment.