Belfast Telegraph

More than 100 life-saving defibrillators installed across Northern Ireland thanks to fundraising campaign

By Claire Williamson

More than 100 life-saving defibrillators have been installed outside shops across Northern Ireland thanks to a public fundraising campaign.

In October 2015 Henderson Group which own Spar, EUROSPAR and VIVO launched a campaign with the public to install the equipment, which can shock the heart back to life, outside over 300 stores.

Installation of the Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) began in January and now more than 100 are in place and are fully accessible 24/7.

The first batch of over 20 devices were installed throughout Counties Tyrone, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Antrim, Armagh and Down in January.

Since then, a further 80 were installed in February and March in towns including Killylea, Moy, Artigarvan, Holywood, Greyabbey and Magherafelt

And in cities including Lisburn, Newry, Armagh, Londonderry and Belfast.

The initiative was backed by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride.

During the three months of fundraising at the end of 2015, stores raised £1,500 for each defibrillator and its special temperature controlled cabinet.

Henderson Group also set up a dedicated website with important procedures to follow in the event of a cardiac arrest and provided training at conferences and staff training days.

Individual stores worked with their local CPR training groups ensuring a majority of store staff are trained in the life-saving technique.

With around 1,400 cardiac arrests occurring each year in the province outside of hospitals, of which fewer than 10% of people will survive, it is vital bystanders perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and make use of an AED if readily available.

It has been proven that early CPR and defibrillator shock are vital to a person's chances of surviving a cardiac arrest.

Head of corporate marketing at the Henderson Group Bronagh Luke said: “I also cannot thank the public enough for helping us make Northern Ireland safer with these devices, especially the more rural areas where ambulance waiting times can be longer.

“Thanks to these efforts, we now have 100 defibrillators in place externally and available for use to the public 24/7. To know that one of these defibrillators could save a life makes a huge difference.”

Bronagh added: “The defibrillators that have been installed  are automatic, so no training is required for use. As soon as one is activated, the user will be talked through the process by the machine accompanied by visual aids whilst the Ambulance Service operator remains on the phone throughout the incident.”

The next 100 devices will be installed over the summer, with the remainder of the devices being installed by the end of the year.

What to do:

If a member of the public witnesses somebody taking a cardiac arrest, which means that their heart has stopped beating and they are not breathing, it is essential that they phone 999 immediately and begin CPR compressions, while calling for a member of the public to fetch a defibrillator if one is in the area.

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