An East Antrim MLA has called for the introduction of a mandatory defibrillator register, claiming it could help save countless lives.
Sinn Fein representative Oliver McMullan told the Times he was “shocked” to learn that current provision is not standardised, co-ordinated or linked to emergency medical services.
Defibrillation is a common treatment for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the heart using defibrillators which, thanks to recent technological advances, are now portable and can be used by non-medical people with a little training.
It is mandatory to have defibrillators in designated public places around the country such as hotels, shopping centres and churches and at other locations.
Increasingly, sporting and leisure organisations are fundraising to acquire defibrillators for use on their premises.
It is a worthy cause, but Mr McMullan has discovered that there is no means of tracing where all the equipment is located and he is pressing for legislation, fearing that vital seconds could be lost in an emergency situation for want of a record of where defibrillators are kept.
He said: “I was shocked to learn that the emergency services have no way of keeping track of all the defibrillators which are located all over the place.
“I want to see legislation introduced that will make it compulsory for all defibrillators sold to be added to a register, which can be accessed by the Ambulance Service and other emergency services.”
He added: “I am also calling on it to be mandatory for defibrillators to be installed in certain public venues.”
Mr McMullan explained: “When someone suffers from a heart attack, seconds are vital and knowing the location of defibrillators could mean the difference between life or death.
“This proposal has the full backing of the Ambulance Service. I have brought forward a motion to debate this issue at the Assembly on Tuesday (May 19) and I am confident that all parties will lend their support.”