Frank Pantridge MC

Frank Pantridge MC

Cecil Lowry
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
This excellent little volume is another from the 'Pen and Sword' stable, and tells the story of the life of James Francis Pantridge CBE MC MD DSc DMEDSc FRCP FRCPI FACC from his birth in 1916 to his death in 2004. THis man is not well known to the general public, and never received a Knighthood or other Honour, which is a terrific shame, considering he invented the portable defibrillator, which has saved countless lives in the fifty years since he did so.

It's written in a clear style and the tale rattles along with chapters on his early years, schooling, education, early career, Army Service, Captivity in Singapore and experience thereafter, and his later life as a Cardiac specialist. I really enjoyed the way the book is structured and written, and finished it in two sittings. There is a LOT of information here, particularly about the battles during the fall of Singapore and the decisions taken before and during the campaign.

I particularly liked the Appendices, which no-one usually reads. The first is his Obituary, written by a colleague from Queen's University Belfast, the second is a collection of memories by people who knew him, his nephew, Lady Mary Peters the Olympian, the former Mayor of Lisburn, and the third a short list of famous people whose lives have been saved by a Defibrillator. It would be impossible to list all the names of people who are still alive, or who lived longer, because of his invention and tenacity in persuading health authorities and Governments to deploy ever smaller and more usable defibrillators throughout the first world. Given that during the 1970s the DHSS was insisting that the use of defibrillators had absolutely no effect on survival rates from heart problems, and there was no need to waste money on putting them anywhere other than Coronary Care Units, I can perhaps begin to understand why no appearance on the Honours List arrived for a man who was so insistent and driven to probe them wrong!

The book's author is the son of a FEPOW, and his sympathy for those unfortunate men shines through the sections on that part of Franks life. This is his fourth book, and having read this one, I shall certainly seek out the other three from my local library.

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