25 May 2022

Laois village welcomes life saving defibrillator

Laois village welcomes life saving defibrillator

Scott Courtney with his mother Sally Courtney (Chairperson , Ballybrittas Tidy Towns) with the new Defibrillator in an old kiosk. Photo: Michaell Scully

After several years of community fundraising, a Laois village has proudly installed a life saving public access heart defibrillator, housed in a traditional Irish phonebox.

The Ballybrittas Tidy Towns Committee held a big launch for their defibrillator last Saturday May 7, with all enjoying refreshments from the recently opened Village Coffee shop.

The 'Heart of Ballybrittas project began in 2019 when the committee agreed on their goal and got in touch with The Heart of Ireland Project who install Phone Box AEDs around Ireland.

The Tidy Towns Committee began fundraising by setting up a GoFundMe page for online donations. It was supplemented by money raised at a Christmas event in 2019 supported by a Tractor Run from the local Tractor Club, and by generous donations from individuals and businesses near and far.

When Covid-19 arrived fundraising became more difficult. Luckily they received a grant through the Community Enhancement Scheme administered by the Laois Local Community Development Committee. That paid for the defibrillator itself, while the money that had been raised locally was enough to cover the cost of the special phone box.

Below: Tim Kearney, Cllr Paschal Mc Evoy, James Hyland (The Coffee Shop), Dan O'Neill, Scott Courtney holding the ribbon which his mother Sally Courtney (Chairperson, Ballybrittas Tidy Towns) cut for the new Defibrillator launch, Fergus O'Reilly and Adrian O'Halloran. Photo: Michaell Scully

The defibrillator’s location has been registered with the National Ambulance Service (NAS). In the event of an emergency and access to the defibrillator is required, the public are asked to dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Ambulance Service, giving the Eircode on the front of the phone box. The NAS operator will then advise the key pad code to unlock the phone box.

Sally Courtney Chairperson of Ballybrittas Tidy Towns thanks everyone who helped them along the way, including local businesses.

"The committee would like to express its gratitude to everyone involved including local man David O’ Connell who unloaded the phone box on delivery day.

"A special thanks to Laois County Council who were very helpful and accommodating throughout the project, providing assistance for the connection of the defibrillator, and in particular, thanks go to Cllr Paschal McEvoy and more recently Cllr PJ Kelly for all their representations to get the project over the line.

"This project wouldn’t have been possible without the pulling together of everyone involved," she said.

It is not enough to install the device, local people have to be trained to use it and the committee has managed just that.

"We applied to Laois Offaly Education and Training Board to provide a Cardiac First Responder training course to train a small group of local people. This course is at full capacity now as they have had huge interest from people to participate. We would like to thank Rath National School for allowing their hall to be used as a training venue," Sally said.

Damien Baker is Project Lead on the Heart of Ireland Project explains.

“The Heart of Ireland group is an umbrella project that encompasses bringing an old piece of Irish history back to keep communities together in new ways. We are delighted to welcome another Phone Box AED to the country and we hope that this increases people’s awareness of these life saving devices locations. Thank you to the sterling work undertaken by the Ballybrittas community to make this project happen.”

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