Vandalism threatening lifesaving emergency aid to people in Kildare, meeting hears

Call for tougher penalties for those who damage lifesaving equipment

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Vandalism threatening lifesaving emergency aid to people in Kildare, meeting hears

File photo - defibrillator

Vandalism is threatening life saving emergency aid to people who become suddenly ill, Kildare County Council meeting was told.

Defibrillators are estimated to be saving around 150 lives a year.

Addressing its monthly meeting to promote a volunteer first aid programme, Community First Responders, John Fitzgerald said there was a fear about putting life-saving defibrillators, devices used to help keep people alive until further help arrived, on many buildings because of fear of criminal damage.Mr Fitzgerald called for an increase in penalties for those damaging such first aid devices.

He also told the Council on June 26 that Irish people are very poor at using the country’s emergency 999 number.

Mr Fitzgerald, who is based in Dunlavin, was making a presentation to the Council on the benefits provided by the CFR  volunteers who are linked to the National Ambulance Service and despatched by the 999/112 National Ambulance Service to emergencies within their communities.

A CFR person is a member of the public who volunteers to help their community by responding to medical emergencies while the ambulance is on its way.

Speaking about the benefit of this type of first aid  he said Irish people were much worse than those in UK and mainland Europe at calling the 999 services.

He said work of Community First Responders is voluntary and more volunteers are needed. “They provided a big outcome at a very low cost. We need to teach this first aid to everybody,” he said.

The volunteers only attend cardiac arrest, adult chest pain (suspected heart attack), stroke and choking emergencies in their communities.

Mr Fitzgerald said their work meant that for those with serious conditions the survival rate for people who received CFR related help was around 6.7% in 2015, equivalent to 148 lives.

Most responder groups have organised themselves to be “on call 24/7” to respond to these emergencies.

In county Kildare they have groups in Kildare town, Newbridge, Ballitore, Naas and Monasterevin.

Cllr Billy Hillis said his life was saved a number of times by CFR help. Mayor Ivan Keatley said: “I don’t think there is any greater endorsement than that.

Cllr Bernard Caldwell asked about Leixlip, Celbridge and Maynooth.

Mr Fitzgerald said they had inquiries from north Kildare but somebody has to step forward to volunteer.

CFR says groups buy their own AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) and training equipment by fundraising.

Training is carried out by the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) CFR Instructors. Volunteers have been trained to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), how to use an AED, perform aspirin therapy for adult chest pain and carried out an initial assessment for possible stroke. After getting a 999/112 call Community First responders are dispatched simultaneously with the National Ambulance Service and are only sent to calls within a three mile (5km) radius of their communities.

Cllr Mark Wall said that the County Council had recently trained 45 people in the use of defibrillators.