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Students' gadget could be a lifesaver in young scientists competition

A pocket-size defibrillator that attaches to an iPhone is among the latest ideas by the country's budding young scientists.

Students from 346 schools across the country have entered an array of innovative projects at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Owen Killian and Lucas Grange, fifth year pupils at Belvedere College, Dublin, believe a pharmaceutical firm could develop the concept into a potentially life-saving portable tool.

The device would be powered to give three electric shocks to restart a heart after sudden cardiac arrest, with key data relayed through an iPhone application.

Owen said while the sudden deaths of sport stars such as GAA footballer Cormac McAnallen have been highlighted, sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time.

The teenagers believe off-duty healthcare staff nationwide could carry the tool, potentially reducing the use of bulky and costly automatic external defibrillators in sports clubs and schools.

"Where is a defibrillator at a five-a-side match in the Phoenix Park?," asked Owen (17), who plans to study medicine at university.

"You have to hit the casual events. It's not just in sports clubs. What we need is a huge abundance of these devices all over.

"If you can get 70pc of all health professionals to get this technology, this device is guaranteed to be on every street in Dublin. Statistically, it's going to save lives."

A record 1,735 projects have entered the competition this year, up a third, with 515 chosen to compete for the coveted title of BT Young Scientist and Technologist of the Year.

More than 38,000 people are expected to visit the exhibition, which opens to the public in the RDS from Thursday to Saturday.

Highlights include the Gandini Juggling team, a Jurassic rainforest, warring robots and a tour of the solar system through 3D stereo projection.