Professor James Francis Pantridge, not a name that stands out to most people, but his invention just might! Professor Pantridge was a Doctor and cardiologist from Northern Ireland who invention transformed emergency medicine and has saved thousands of lives, the portable defibrillator which is standard in emergency ambulances today.
The modern design of the portable defibrillators or AED means it can not only be used by emergency medical personnel but are also available now in public spaces, venues and building which can be used by members of the public easily, safely and effectively in the event of a person taking a Cardiac Arrest away from an ambulance or hospital enviroment.
Back in 2014 the idea of placing defibrillators at key ponts round Ballymoney, which would be available to the public in case of such cardiac arrest emergency, was put before council. These would be on top of the privately purchased devices that were already situated in certain buildings within the town. At that time two defibrillators were in place, Gordans Chemist and the Joey Dunlop leisure centre.
The corporate & Central services committee considered the proposal to install a number of these defibrillator devices in the town. The Council would base their model on another similar installation which had taken place in Magherafelt supported by the PCSP (policing and Community Safety Partnership).
The costing were provided to the full council meeting on 1st December 2014 for consideration. The cost worked out around £4000 +VAT for one defibrillator dropping to £2750 +VAT if mains power was already available at its location. Locations which were proposed were Riverside Park and Magaw Park. The Mayor at the time, John Finlay, advised the councillors that along with the Chief Executive a cycle ride fundraiser had taken place and the council had raised enough for two to be installed in the town centre. Unfortunately two locations could not be secured so the second was given to the Joey Dunlop Centre. After discussion on other issues including security, insurance and training, the council agreed to defer the decision for a month.
Fast forward to the 5th January 2015 and the council yet again considered the proposal of the provision of defibrillators to the town. On this occasion it came to light that the Family Dental practice which is located Queens Street/ Union Street had been in contact with the council and were interested in providing a defibrillator at their location which would be available outside their business hours and proposed that they share the cost with the council. Family Dental care would also train two of its staff members in the use of the device. It was proposed by Councillor Ian Stevenson and seconded by Councillor John Finlay that the following be implemented.
- That the council accepts the offer from Family dental care to share the cost of providing a device at their location;
- A defibrillator would be installed to the town hall and at Castlecroft Square;
- And 20 people would be trained in the use of these defibrillators.
FUSE FM Ballymoney has since learned that this was never full implemented despite this been agreed over 2 years ago.
Since January 2015 the 20 members of the public have received their training in the use of these defibrillators including administering basic life support through CPR. We have spoken to some of those that were trained and despite being told at the time that they would receive official accreditation for this training including a follow-up and kept up to date with the progress of these defibrillators this has never happened. FUSE FM Ballymoney approached Councillor Ian Stevenson regards this who made contact with the trainer who assured him that this will be made a priority. FUSE FM have since learned that these are now being processed.
The defibrillator which was to be installed and cost shared by Family Dental Care has also had very little movement made on it.
It was also agreed that the two sites in the town centre for the defibrillators would be the town hall and Castlecroft Square. While one had been installed at the town hall, it has been situated inside meaning that outside office hours it is inaccessible to the public.
Speaking on behalf of the local bands forum, Codie Murray said,
Ballymoney town is known for its strong marching band culture and as such we have many parades during the band season. As events showed a few years ago in the neighbouring town of Coleraine during a parade, when a band member suffered a Cardiac arrest, you can never predict when events like this happen and with larger crowds the risk increases. When the band’s forum heard of the proposals originally we welcomed the news. unfortunately we find ourselves two years on and while we have several defibrillators round the town, most of these as not accessible as they are located with business premises. I would like to see the one within the town hall being considered to be relocated to the wall on the outside because as the defibrillator has not been installed in Castlecroft yet, the only public one available along the parade route is at Smyths Eurospar. If the proposed defibrillators were to also be installed at Queens Street and Castlecroft there would be one available along the length of the route without having to go to far in the case that it is needed. With also the increased public event through the towns calendar including the new Spring Fair due to return next year and the Christmas Carnival Parade again this year, surely these are a must?
Recently an incident occurred on Main Street where a gentleman took a cardiac arrest and requiring a defibrillator, a member of the public made their way to access the one at Tesco which was used because the one at Castlecroft hadn’t been installed.
FUSE FM send a request to the council for and update and clarification on these issues. As of yet we haven’t recieved any responce but Councillor Ian Stevenson is following up on this.
Surely two years down the line after the original proposal was accepted at council, and with the towns revitisilation scheme all but complete, that these should be installed by now!