Call for HSE to manage defibrillators as too few people know where they are or how to use them

The HSE or the Department of Health should either manage or delegate a community-based organisation to oversee the country’s estimated 11,000 defibrillators.

Call for HSE to manage defibrillators as too few people know where they are or how to use them

The HSE or the Department of Health should either manage or delegate a community-based organisation to oversee the country’s estimated 11,000 defibrillators.

This is because too few people know where they are or how to use them, according to Fianna Fáil councillor Audrey Buckley.

She said a proportion are so badly maintained that they are inoperable and raised fears about the battery life of the lift-saving apparatus.

Ms Buckley is to raise the issue at tomorrow's Regional Health Forum (RHF).

She is concerned that the massive network set up largely by volunteers is not as effective as it could be in helping people who suffer heart attacks and who need a shock from an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to save their lives in the immediate aftermath of a heart attack.

The Cork County councillor is the latest person to raise concerns about the country’s AEDs.

At the end of last month, a retired consultant surgeon said more lives could actually be saved if the HSE were to help people find out where their nearest AED is.

According to the emergency services, they only know where around 2,000 of the country’s AEDs are.

In her motion, Ms Buckley said, "There are an estimated 9,000 to 11,000 AEDS nationally, so you would assume that if you were having a heart attack a working serviced AED would not be far away.

“This is not the case. When a local community or sports group buys and inputs an AED, it is this volunteer group that is responsible for maintaining and servicing the AED.

“Volunteers come and go and AEDs are not being serviced and maintained properly.

“It is an oversight that needs to be addressed.

“It could be a life that could be at risk because a AED was not serviced or maintained."

She suggested that someone could design an app that shows the location of the onsite defibrillator.

But even when people find out where the unit is, she said that some are locked inside cabinets and there is a question mark about who has the key.

Also, she pointed out that the unit’s battery needs to be replaced every 3 to 5 years, and the electrode pads have a life shelf of 2 to 3 years.

She said some kind of centralised approach is needed "as no one organisation is responsible for them and someone should have that responsibility, after all it could be a life and death situation".

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