New Defibrillator Bill Could Save Lives


A new Private Members Bill by the Seanad concerning the installation of defibrillators in public areas has been broadly welcomed.

The Bill titled Public Health (Availability of Defibrillators) Bill 2013 was sponsored by Independent Senator Feargal Quinn and deals directly with the installation of defibrillator machines and the implementation of training courses.

“We believe legislating to provide more automated external defibrillators (AEDs) is a vital pre-requisite to increasing the life-saving role of bystander CPR,” said Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, for the Irish Heart Foundation.

According to the foundation, 5,000 people die from sudden cardiac death in Ireland annually and of these deaths, 7 in 10 happen in public view, leaving many bystanders helpless to intervene.
CPR training has become a major component of the Irish Heart Foundation’s promotion for a healthy life and healthy heart. To date, they have 190 training centres – situated in local hospitals and community centers around D4 – with 2,000 instructors offering 55,000 people nationwide a chance to learn CPR.

“Our courses are from the most basic level aimed at lay people, so the man or woman on the street, through to advanced courses which are targeted at those working in acute medical areas such as emergency departments and consultants,” said Sarah Cain CPR Department Manager at the Irish Heart Foundation.

The training programme focuses primarily on what Sarah calls the ‘Chain of Survival’ which has five parts: understanding that somebody is in need of help, calling emergency services, instigating early CPR or defibrillators, carrying out medical care, followed by hospital care.

The foundation has been strongly behind the proposed new Bill, supporting its promotion of defibrillators in public places. In Dublin 4 and the Docklands area, the Aviva Stadium, The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and the National Convention Centre are fitted with defibrillators and in one case – according to an Aviva spokesman – this has helped save a life.

“In principle, making them a natural part of the landscape in Ireland is a very positive initiative,” concludes Sarah.

By Liam Cahill