First of four public access defibrillators installed in old-style telephone boxes in Carrigaline

A family touched by personal tragedy has helped get a life-saving initiative off the ground in one of Ireland’s largest towns, writes Eoin English.

Bríd Kearney, from Carrigaline in Co Cork, who lost her father Tim two years ago, said she and her family wanted to do something to help the “unsung heroes” in the town’s volunteer first responders group who rendered assistance to him.

The Carrigaline Community First Responders group have now used money raised by a golf classic, organised by Ms Kearney and her family in Tim’s name, to install the first telephone box defibrillator in the town.

Dr John Murphy cuts the tape to officially open the new Public Access Defibrillator phone box along the Crosshaven Road. Picture: Howard Crowdy

They plan to install four more public access defibrillators in old-style telephone boxes bearing the vintage P&T green and cream colours at strategic sites around the town.

Ms Kearney spoke of her pride as the first device was unveiled at Sail Park, on the Crosshaven Road.

“That day dad died is a blur to me. But I remember how two volunteer first responders arrived within one or two minutes,” she said.

“It was too late for them to save dad but their quick response meant that we were able to donate dad’s organs and seven people benefited. So, in a way, they helped save other lives.

“You don’t realise how important their work is until you’re in a crisis. And people don’t realise the work they do behind the scenes. They are unsung heroes.”

Mr Kearney, a keen golfer, took his own life on May 19, 2015. Ms Kearney said as what would have been his 60th birthday approached on September 15 last, she wanted to do something to remember him. She organised a golf classic in Kinsale, supported by House of Coolmore, which attracted over 50 teams.

The event raised just over €10,000 which has been donated to the Carrigaline Community First Responders.

Launched in April 2015, the group has 26 volunteers who respond in conjunction with the National Ambulance Service to cardiac arrest and choking emergencies. Two volunteers are on call every day, 24/7, and they have access to a network of 24 automatic external defibrillators (AED), including 12 publicly accessible devices.

First responder Pat Allen said they were delighted with the Kearney family donation which has helped them fast-track their plans to roll out a network of telephone box defibrillators.

“We are working with Cork County Council on our plans to install four more of these phone box defibrillators at strategic locations around the town over the coming months — on the Church Rd, near the Janesville estate, at Piper’s Cross and on the Owenbue Plaza,” he said.

Mr Allen said the initiative is also being supported by De Carrig Cycle, Carrigaline Tidy Towns, Lidl Carrigaline, Astra Construction and Deady Security.

The group, he said, is always seeking members to join the team. It can contact them at carrigalinecfr or on Facebook.

Meanwhile, the Cork Lions Club has installed its seventh Cork city centre AED unit on French Church St. It has been installed thanks to the support of Ulster Bank.

This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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