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Public outcry after two defibrillator units stolen in two separate incidents this weekend

The crimes happened in Wicklow and Louth.

Image: Sarah Slater

TWO DEFIBRILLATOR UNITS stolen and damaged in two separate incidents in Wicklow and Louth over the weekend have caused outrage amongst locals and Health Minister Simon Harris.

One public Access Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was stolen from its box at a Centra supermarket in Rathnew, Co. Wicklow on Friday night while another one was stolen from outside a shop in Aston village, Co Louth.

Reacting to the news of the incident in his constituency of Wicklow, Minister Simon Harris said: “This is awful news. These defibrillators save lives and our Community Responder Groups across the county are real local heroes who do so much to keep us all well. 

“Please spread the word and see if anyone knows anything about the theft of this defibrillator and let’s try get it back.”

In a statement, Community First Responders (CFR) Wicklow Town said: “This is a vital piece of emergency equipment that can save someone’s life. [It] was purchased in community spirit with the hope it could save someone in an emergency. 

“It could be your mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother or sister that may need this one day.”

In Louth, the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps in Drogheda reported that one of their Public Access AED units was stolen from its box outside a shop in Aston Village. 

On their Facebook page, they said: “Woke up to the news that someone has robbed our Public Access AED last night. Disgraceful behaviour by those involved.”

They have launched a fundraising campaign to raise vital money to replace it. An AED unit costs around €1,200.

There are three Community Engagement Officers with the National Ambulance Service who engage with new and existing CFR groups and provide information, training and guidance to these groups around the country.

Reacting this morning to the news of stolen and damaged AED’s, Ger O’ Dea, North Leinster area Community Engagement Officer with the National Ambulance Service told EmergencyTimes.ie: “A vital part of equipment is the defibrillator which is the third link in the chain of survival and for every minute without a defibrillator, the victims chance of survival decreases by as much as 10 percent.

“CFR groups work tirelessly and selflessly to raise funds for these machines and to have one stolen or vandalised is appalling and may be the difference between life or death in a cardiac situation.

“I would appeal to anyone with any information on missing or damaged AED’s to contact your local Garda station. I would also ask members of the public to keep an eye on their local machines and go as far as to look into the cabinets to ensure that are there because with 70% of cardiac arrests occurring in the home, it could be you who needs it next.”

‘While it is clear these incidents are as a result of vandalism and theft, there have been occasions whereby an AED unit may have been removed from its box for the purpose intended and the person responsible may not have had a chance to return it before community groups or the public notice its missing.”

Roads Policing and CFR Garda Paul Baynham described the stealing of AED’s as “horrendous”.  Garda Baynham said:  “It is a horrendous thing, no more so than any of us when your scrolling through social media and you see the photograph going up of the smashed glass, its horrendous to see.”

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Sarah Slater

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