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An advanced paramedic living in West Clare has flagged the importance of access to defibrillators in isolated communities as an essential lifesaving requirement.

Kilkee resident and HSE paramedic Keith McDonagh stressed that a surplus of defibrillators within the local community has led to the saving of at least one life since January 2020. In total, Kilkee has “upwards of seven” registered defibrillators strategically positioned within the seaside town.

“We are so isolated here in West Clare. The wait time can be up to or more than one hour for an ambulance and resources are limited,” Keith who is a founding member of Kilkee Community First Responders (CFR) added.

Kilkee CFR was established in December 2019 and is tied into the National Ambulance Service. Now boasting a total of 14 members within the community, the group are the first to receive a text when a cardiac arrest occurs within their designated area. A number of generous donations were made by locals in order to install the defibrillators which are located at the Kilkee Dive Centre, the Greyhound Bar, Marion Estate entrance, the Diamond Rocks Café and the Parish Priests House.

“This is a huge amount for a small community but it’s necessary as we are so isolated.” They are expensive to install, costly to maintain and often run a theft or vandalism risk, he added. Defibrillators can be identified as yellow boxes within the town. In the event of a cardiac arrest, dial 999, input the Eircode of the box and wait for an access pin that will open the defibrillator, Keith informed. The next step is to unzip and follow the voice instructions when performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Keith believes that everyone should be taught CPR from primary school level. “The first person to do the most basic thing, has the biggest impact. It’s all good and well when we arrive with our machines and pads but if basic CPR is not done first, then there is little to no chance in helping them.”

For anyone unfamiliar with CPR, Keith urges you to visit the Irish Heart Foundation online and watch a two min basic video on how to perform. Classes can also be booked with the Irish Red Cross.

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