CFR Ireland is calling for cross-party support to introduce strict penalties for those who steal or damage defibrillators by enacting the Life Saving Equipment Bill, following the recent thefts of Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) from Louth and Wicklow.
The Life Saving Equipment Bill, which was initiated in 2017 by Senator Dr. Keith Swanick, proposes penalties of up to five years imprisonment and a €50,000 fine for those convicted of theft or damage to a defibrillator or lifebuoy. CFR Ireland supported this Bill when it was proposed, and it is now stalled in the Houses of the Oireachtas.
In a statement CFR Ireland said: “We know that all community first responders are as angry about these thefts as we are. We support Senator Dr Keith Swanick to help raise awareness with our representatives that this Bill needs to be passed as a matter of urgency.
“Community First Responders and other voluntary groups around the country have fundraised to purchase and install these lifesaving devices. There needs to be stiff penalties for damaging or stealing these devices.”
Dr David Menzies, Medical Director of CFR Ireland added that damage to, or theft of a defibrillator installed for public use could be a death sentence for a patient if it’s not available for a patient in cardiac arrest as a result. “Locking up AEDs isn’t the ideal solution – you wouldn’t lock up a fire extinguisher!”
In the event of a cardiac arrest, Dr Menzies said CPR and defibrillation within the first 10 minutes are the most important intervention. “A patient’s chances of survival drops by 10% for every minute that treatment is delayed. It’s estimated that there are over 13,000 AEDs in Ireland,” he noted.