The HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) is delivering 150 defibrillators (AEDs) to volunteer Community First Responders across Ireland for off-duty use.
The initiative means NAS staff will, for the first time, have an AED immediately to hand when a life-threatening emergency occurs in their communities.
AEDs (or Automatic External Defibrillators) - portable devices which use an electric shock to restart the heart - can be used by people with no medical training.
NAS Director, Robert Morton, said off-duty volunteers deserve "great praise".
He said, "This is a great initiative which has been funded by the Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy for Ireland. NAS staff who volunteer as CFRs when off duty in their local communities deserve great praise. These new AED kits will be a great asset for them as they will have immediate access to an AED when a cardiac emergency occurs.
"The AEDs fit into a specially-designed backpack which makes them easily transportable when someone is rushing to the scene of an emergency. They are being delivered to 150 staff around the country."
CFR groups linked to the NAS National Emergency Operations Centre can provide medical assistance within minutes of a 112/999 call.
This immediate response can drastically improve outcomes for patients in cardiac arrest by providing life support through CPR and defibrillation.
The more links in the 'Chain of Survival' a patient receives - including early paramedic intervention - the higher their chances of survival.
NAS Lead, Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy & Associated Specialist Programmes, Bridget Clarke, said, "The Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy was very pleased to be in a position to provide the funding for this initiative. We have no doubt that it will be of great benefit to local communities and we are all very grateful to the NAS staff members who participate in it.
"Those who volunteer as CFRs in their communities are making a real difference. We would ask if people are interested in the work of a CFR to come forward and volunteer, there are lots of opportunities in local communities around the country to get involved. Full training and support will be provided."
For further information on becoming a Community First Responder please click here.
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