Call for support for bill to punish those who interfere with defibrillators

Calls have been made for cross-party support for a bill that would punish those who interfere with potentially life-saving defibrillators.
Call for support for bill to punish those who interfere with defibrillators

The Life Saving Equipment Bill 2018 would impose a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a €50,000 fine, or both for those convicted of interfering with a defibrillator or lifebuoy. Picture Denis Minihane.

COMMUNITY First Responders Ireland (CFR Ireland) has called for cross-party support for a bill that would see those convicted of interfering with a defibrillator fined or imprisoned.

The Life Saving Equipment Bill 2018 would impose a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a €50,000 fine, or both for those convicted of interfering with a defibrillator or lifebuoy.

It comes following damage to public access defibrillators across the State in recent weeks, including outside Blarney Woollen Mills.

The automated external defibrillator (AED) is back in service after the damaged thermostatic-controlled storage cabinet was repaired.

The AED is protected by CCTV cameras and footage of the incident has been given to gardaí. An investigation is under way.

There were also stolen and damaged defibrillators reported in Mayo, Dublin, and Carlow.

CFR Ireland medical director Dr David Menzies said: 

Damage to, or theft of, a defibrillator installed for public use could be a death sentence for a patient if it were not available for a patient in cardiac arrest as a result. It is that serious.

"Locking up AEDs isn’t the ideal solution; you wouldn’t lock up a fire extinguisher.”

CFR Ireland chair John Fitzgerald said the group believed that “strict penalties” should apply to those guilty of theft of or damage to life-saving devices such as defibrillators.

“The issue of defibrillator theft and damage is not new, it is time for action,” he said. “I would also appeal to those who stole the AEDs to return them.”

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