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Retail group pumps life into NI’s largest external defibrillator network

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A local retail group has launched plans to install Northern Ireland’s largest network of external, public access defibrillator devices here, it has been announced today.

Over 300 of Mallusk-based Henderson Group’s SPAR, EUROSPAR and VIVO branded outlets have signed up to a new campaign to install AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) outside their stores, which has full support from Dr Michael McBride, Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer.

It is intended that the 300 new devices will be installed and available for public use throughout 2016.

Community and store fundraising at each outlet signed up will fund the devices, aiming for £1,500 to purchase the product, its temperature controlled cabinet and installation.

With around 1,400 cardiac arrests occurring each year in Northern Ireland outside of hospitals, it is vital bystanders perform CPR and make use of an AED device if readily available.  This will be Northern Ireland’s largest external network of lifesaving devices.

Henderson Group’s Bronagh Luke, who has pioneered the campaign with her colleagues, says that this initiative is essential for every community to get involved in; “At the heart of our business we are passionate about local. We hope that every local community will get behind their store’s fundraising campaign and ensure more life-saving devices are on hand, and we encourage retailers and communities to educate themselves with lifesaving practices should an unfortunate incident occur in their area.

“We will have an education campaign running alongside the fundraising campaigns both digitally via specially produced ‘how to use’ videos, and with printed, practical information readily available in store. We know it is not enough to only have the devices in situ, education on community resuscitation and defibrillator usage is a priority.”

Dr McBride says the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) commend the Group for this initiative; “The addition of these external, public access defibrillators to our network of life savers across Northern Ireland is very welcome. The

DHSSPS launched the Community Resuscitation Strategy in 2014, with the aim of improving the survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. This campaign complements the strategy and we hope that more lives can be saved in the future.”

Working with DCAL and Sport NI, the campaign has been gaining the support of sports stars, actors, musicians and local personalities to push the fundraising message further, for all communities to get involved in their local fundraising activity.

Mrs Luke said of the product; “We are working with Mark Bailie, a State Registered Paramedic and the UK & Ireland agent for one of the most prestigious AED manufacturers in the world, Physio-Control. With Mark’s experience and our extensive product research, we believe this product is the best for our communities. They will be fitted outside stores, in special temperature controlled cabinets, fully accessible 24/7.”

Cardiac Arrest occurs when the heart stops beating. It has been proven that early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillator shock are vital to a person’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest**. CPR should be started as soon as possible, whilst calling 999.

The Group is working with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) to ensure effective mapping of the devices.

Members of the public can find out more about the fundraising campaign and the need for defibrillators on the dedicated website, www.heartofourcommunityni.com and can follow the conversation on social media via the #DefibDonate hashtag.

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