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‘Don’t be afraid of defibrillators – one helped save my life’

‘Don’t be afraid of defibrillators – one helped save my life’

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Rosaleen Walsh with her husband Pat and their four children

Rosaleen Walsh suffered a cardiac arrest while taking part in a charity cycle five years ago.

If it had not been for a quick-thinking cyclist and the use of a defibrillator, she believes she would not have survived.

Ms Walsh, from Co Sligo, had been cycling as part of a tour and suddenly felt a heaviness in her chest. She collapsed and her helmet cracked during the fall.

The incident happened in Leenane, Co Galway.

A poor phone signal meant someone had to stand on a lorry to get coverage to call the emergency services.

“There was a cyclist coming behind me and they started CPR and were working on me for nearly 30 minutes,” Ms Walsh said.

“The civil defence were supporting the cycle and it was their defibrillator.

“I have no recollection of what happened and was told it was the second shock that worked. I was airlifted off the road and woke up in the ICU in University Hospital Galway.”

Ms Walsh, who works as an ICU nurse, has four children and was 38 at the time of the incident.

“My children were aged nine right down to three and it’s scary to think they could have lost their mother,” she said.

“Access to defibrillators is so important. The important message to get out is to not be afraid of them. People think they need to be trained, but all you do is press the ‘on’ button and the machine talks you through everything.

“It is so important for people to familiarise themselves with the nearest defibrillator within their communities.”

Up to 25 defibrillators are to be installed across the country in a bid to improve access to the life-saving device. A campaign launched by Kare Plus Ireland will place defibrillators at a number of its offices and on busy streets in cities including Dublin, Kilkenny and Limerick.

Next month, two defibrillators will be installed on Crescent Quay and the main street in Wexford town. Another will be available in the centre of Kilkenny, on Parnell Street in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, and near the Kare Plus office in Tralee, Co Kerry.

Defibrillators will also be placed in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin and at a rugby club in Galway in December, while more defibrillators will be available in Cork, Dublin city north and O’Connell Street in Limerick at the start of next year.

The Cork and Dublin city north locations are yet to be decided.

A spokesperson for Kare Plus Ireland told the Irish Independent: “Every time we open a franchise, a defibrillator will also be supplied automatically, so that means in the next three years we will have placed 20 to 25 defibrillators across Ireland and they will be available 24/7 for the community.

“The more we have available, the more lives we can save. They won’t be locked in buildings and will be outside, available for everyone.”

Many lives are saved every year thanks to defibrillators.

Defibrillators are used to treat someone in cardiac arrest. The portable piece of equipment helps restore a normal heartbeat by sending an electric pulse to the chest.

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