Belfast Telegraph

Defibrillator plea by firm's chief as he creates 40 jobs

By Clare Weir

The chief executive of a company that is hiring 40 more staff to make portable defibrillators says he wants the lifesaving equipment to be as prevalent as fire extinguishers in public buildings.

Declan O'Mahoney was speaking as HeartSine Technologies announced the job plans at their newly expanded offices in east Belfast.

The company is the only manufacturer of defibrillators in the UK and Ireland and the products are sold to over 70 countries across the world and operate in around 30 languages.

The 40 new jobs will contribute around £1.3m a year in salaries to the economy and have been supported with a £360,000 boost from Invest Northern Ireland.

Positions at the company include senior management, sales, manufacturing, new product development, research and development, quality and customer support roles.

Mr O'Mahoney said that he wants to double sales of the existing product portfolio in target markets over the next three years.

"Around 100,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest in the UK and Ireland each year, a couple of hundred die in fires," he said.

"Yet there is a fire extinguisher or a smoke alarm in every public building. Our products are already in schools, restaurants, churches, sports clubs and even oil rigs and I want to make sure they are in every public building in the same way that fire extinguishers are."

The company's products travel far and wide, he said.

"Our sales are split almost 50-50 between the Americas and Europe and the Middle East.

"Big sales would be in the USA, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Canada but the markets are fairly well spread."

He said that the company's strong Northern Ireland links were also something to be celebrated.

Ulster academic Professor John Anderson, who died in 2012, was a co-founder of the company and in the 1960s developed the world's first portable defibrillator designed for use outside hospitals.

Because the pioneering work took place in Northern Ireland, the process that emergency departments use to treat cardiac arrest is known as 'The Belfast Protocol'.

"The first cardiac ambulance in the world was developed and delivered in Belfast and John Anderson worked on that original technology," said Mr O'Mahoney.

He added: "That innovation is still apparent today – there is a huge amount of talent out there and we work with the universities, the hospitals and the researchers to help make our products better.

"Northern Ireland should be the most heart-safe company in the world and a place where no-one dies from sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital.

"There is a huge opportunity for businesses like ourselves and the government to lead that charge."

He added that the growing life sciences sector, which also includes companies like Randox and Almac, was providing an inspiring business atmosphere.

"There is constant growth in this sector and a great supply of talented people," he said.

"It is a very supportive environment and Northern Ireland continues to lead the way in innovation.

"We certainly wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

"The company is embedded in technology and science and we don't see any need to ever move to a lower cost environment," said Mr O'Mahoney.

"We're all about the engineering and the technology and we are perfectly happy with our trajectory."

Belfast Telegraph