The idea of setting up a defibrillator project in the parish of Kilbride was first raised in 2007 by Kilbride No Name Club. The idea was to provide a defibrillator for Kilbride Community Centre due to the large number of people who made use of the facility on a daily basis. A public meeting was called for November 5th, 2007 and at that meeting the Kilbride Defibrillator Committee was established.
Since then, the hard-working group of volunteers has gone from strength to strength and is now responsible for 12 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) located at strategic points throughout the parish.
Kathleen O’Grady is the secretary of the committee under the chairmanship of Liam Tully. Kathleen is also an instructor alongside Ita Kelly and she believes the voluntary work carried out by members is vital.
“It was Kilbride No Name Club that first mooted the project for the community centre because we had large numbers in there every day.
“Following research, fundraising and hard work carried out by the newly-formed committee, twelve defibrillators were procured for the parish”.
Over €26,000 was raised from groups, businesses and households in the parish and The Defibrillator Project was launched in February 2008.
Kathleen said that currently there are over 200 parishioners trained in the use of defibrillators and that training is refreshed every six months.
She highlighted the importance of having a strong committee and “following up on the initial idea” in order to maintain the defibrillators and the training courses required to use them.
“At the time the group was set up there was a lot of national awareness (about sudden cardiac deaths) and so we felt this could happen to anyone. So the defibrillators provide peace of mind for people in the parish. They are distributed evenly throughout the parish and there are people with defibrillator training in each area,” Kathleen added.
Due to the continued hard work of the committee, the parish of Kilbride is now a ‘HeartSafe Community’ according to the Irish Heart Foundation.
Following training with Eunice Langley of DARA Rooskey, the committee became self-sufficient in August 2008 with two trainers and new equipment. The voluntary committee has continued to provide training courses and certificates are issued through the Irish Heart Foundation.
Kathleen says the committee has become an important fixture at the heart of Kilbride and even contributed to the parish winning a Pride of Place award in 2009.
She was also thankful to the local community for all its support over the last ten years.
“Components on the devices need to be replaced so we go fundraising every two years. The people are always very good and we get a fantastic response”.
Looking ahead to the future, the Heart Safe surrounds of Kilbride are in equally safe hands as the defibrillator committee continues in its efforts to raise awareness and first responder skills levels throughout the parish.