Defibrillators need to be accessible at all times and examined regularly to ensure they work effectively.
That’s according to a Nealie Warren who provides Automated External Defibrillator (AED) courses.
Nealie has worked with the Kerry Ambulance Service for the past 36-years. His experience in that time has shown him that when people are emotionally charged trying to access a defibrillator in an emergency, they should not be burdened by having to use a code.
He accepts that in certain circumstances defibrillators may need to be protected from vandalism but that, in the main, they should be made freely available.
Nealie said the most important thing to avoid when trying to access and use a defibrillator is frustration.
“It should be a simple clasp handle that opens allowing a person to take the defibrillator away,” he said.
“Time is crucial. The ideal time for a defibrillator to be by a person’s side is eight minutes.
“I look after a few [defibrillators] in the locality and I advise the people looking after them to make it visually easy to open and access their defibrillator,” he said.
Nealie explained that even though a defibrillator may not be used for several years, it must still be inspected to ensure the pads are not out of date and that the doors of the unit do not become jammed or rusted.
All communities where a defibrillator is installed have a First Response Unit – people who are trained to use a defibrillator.
He urged groups to register defibrillators with the National Ambulance Service. Nealie insists that a national or county-wide system should be put in place to oversee the maintenance of what are life-saving machines.
“I have seen defibrillators that are badly run down. Something more organised and interconnected should be in place, even if the HSE carried out spot-checks on defibrillators it would go towards ensuring they are kept in good condition.
“Communities would be more inclined to check them in that case. It’s like when the electricity goes out and you go to the press for the flashlight only to discover the batteries are flat,” he said.
“When I do training, I tell the class that even if a person has a chest pain a defibrillator should be brought to them before the person’s condition gets worse. Every minute counts in an emergency.
“When people ring Ambulance Control, they will tell you if there is a defibrillator nearby to go and get it. You can only imagine if people find it hard to access it how frantic they are. This needs to be avoided.”
For information about AED courses, email Nealie at: firstname.lastname@example.org