Father’s death sparks defibrillator initiative

A WOMAN spoke yesterday about how her father’s sudden death inspired her to raise enough money to install life-saving defibrillators on the streets of her town.

Siobhán Linehan helped unveil details yesterday of the plan to install up to 12 publicly accessible automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at various locations around Killarney, Co Kerry.

AEDs deliver a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to a heart in cardiac arrest that is designed to restore its normal rhythm.

“Had a mobile AED unit been nearby, it might have saved my dad’s life. We will never know,” Siobhán said.

One AED was installed before Christmas near the town’s taxi rank.

Up to 11 more will be installed within weeks in vandal-proof cases in public areas around the town, including a site near the Killarney Court Hotel, on the New Road, near St Mary’s Cathedral, Market Cross, the cineplex, the Countess Shopping Centre near Daly’s SuperValu and Hegarty’s Maxol Garage, and on the Woodlawn and Muckross roads.

A mass training programme will also take place in May to train the public how to use them.

The initiative will make the tourist centre one ofthe biggest Irish Heart Foundation “Heartsafe” towns in the country.

Siobhán, who works in the family pub, Dan Linehan’s, said it was her father’s sudden death that inspired her work on the initiative.

“My father passed away on April 30, 2002, on the 17th hole of Fota Island golf course in Cork,” she said.

“He had no previous heart problems or complaints and took pride in looking after himself. He didn’t smoke and he drank in moderation.

“He left the house that morning looking forward to his day golfing and told my mother to go ahead and book the holiday to America they were looking at. “‘They would be working hard enough all summer and deserved it,’ he said.

“He was a fit and healthy man of 56. When my father collapsed, it took everyone by surprise. The friends with him applied CPR and a nearby cardiac unit was called. But despite everyone’s best efforts, he died.”

Siobhán began fundraising for AEDs soon afterwards and she joined forces last year with the Killarney Lions Club, which had researched the Heartsafe town initiative, to form the Michael Linehan Heartsafe Killarney committee.

They will officially launch the initiative, which will involve an initial investment of some €21,000, on Tuesday, April 13, at a public information evening in the Gleneagle Hotel.

It will feature addresses from leading cardiologists and public health experts, as well as an address by 22-year-old Daniel O’Connell, who survived a cardiac arrest at a sports ground thanks to an AED.

The public will also be invited to sign up for a training course on May 22 which will teach people how to react when a person suffers sudden cardiac arrest and how to use a defibrillator.

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