News & Media

National app for life-saving AEDs needed

24 June 2021

Statement by Senator Mark Wall
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport
  • National AED app would have potential to save lives
  • Community First Responders vital resource
  • State should consider a repair and upkeep scheme for defibs

Labour sports spokesperson Mark Wall has called on the Minister for Sport to urgently develop a national app with a register of all defibrillators in the country. Praising the work of community volunteers throughout the country who fundraise for AEDs and community training, Senator Wall said the Government needs to work with community groups and consider a repair and upkeep scheme for life saving defibrillators which would include updated training for all community first responders.

Senator Wall said:

“There has been a renewed focus given to the lifesaving power of an AED and proper CPR training for young sports people. According to the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest register, in 2019 there were 2,564 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in 2019. This equates to 54 per 100,000 of our population. A staggering figure. The report also indicates that defibrillation was attempted in 25% of these cases before the arrival of the emergency services. We need to increase this number if at all possible. Through the collation of a national register, with information made available on an app, communities nationwide would be empowered to act in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest.

“The Irish Red Cross estimate that there are 8,000 - 10,000 public access defibrillators in Ireland. But there is evidence that some are not being checked regularly and therefore may not be working. A study by the Health Information and Quality Assurance Authority (Hiqa) found instances of battery failure and inaccessible location of defibs.

“We need to have a central register of all the available defibrillators in the country and regular inspection to ensure they are working. This information could be made available through an app with location services to quickly identify where an AED is located for emergencies.

“Government also needs to involve the Community First Responders who are embedded in our communities and get them the training and funding they need to be able to certify and log these AEDs on a central system. These volunteers still have to fundraise by holding annual community fundraisers to ensure there is continuous training for members. We need to fund these community organisations so they can provide training within their communities and to ensure AEDs in their areas are working.

“There has been an increased awareness in recent years over the potential health issues that can occur for sportspeople. When the young, fit professional player Christian Eriksen’s dropped to the ground suffering a cardiac arrest during the Euros, there is no doubt that a defibrillator saved his life. The medical team on site jumped into action and with the aid of an AED, the player was stabilised and a life was saved. This was truly amazing, but very hard for those who have lost a loved one to a sudden cardiac arrest to watch. Unfortunately, we know that sudden cardiac arrest often affects the fittest and youngest people in our society.

“A defibrillator used by a trained person increases the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest by 50% if CPR and defibrillation occurs within the first four minutes of the incident. Survival rates diminish at a rate of 7 – 10 per cent for every minute thereafter. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen and often to the fittest and most active in our communities. I would urge every young person to be proactive about their heart health and attend cardiac screening if at all possible.”