Councillor calls for disused phone boxes to store defibrillators

They are ending up in pubs and gardens and are being adapted for many other purposes.

Disused public phone boxes are also becoming mini-libraries or art galleries, battery-charging stations, and even toilets, while in New Zealand they are being converted to provide WiFi.

And a Kerry county councillor has proposed that they should become bases for lifesaving defibrillators.

Cllr Bobby O’Connell (FG) said defibrillators would be much easier to access if they were installed in the phone boxes, especially in villages and rural communities.

“Many of these places are long distances from hospitals and emergency services and having a defibrillator available could sometimes make the difference between life and death,’’ he said.

He said old phone boxes were being successfully used in this way in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.

“A person just needs to dial 999 and they are given a code to open the defibrillator, which prevents vandalism,’’ Mr O’Connell said.

“Many community and sporting organisations now have people trained how to use defibrillators, so the expertise is often readily available in communities.

“The phone box infrastructure is already there and it should be used to good effect.”

However, council officials outlined likely problems with the proposal, such as the availability of trained staff, liability and vandalism, and the Eircom programme to remove disused phone boxes.

The proposal is being referred to Eircom.

An Eircom spokeswoman said they don’t have any payphone rationalisation programmes in place, but it was an area of the business they reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Meanwhile, gardaí in Listowel are investigating the theft of a defibrillator from a GAA club in nearby Moyvane, between Monday and Wednesday of last week.


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