Farming groups urged to avail of online demos on defibrillators

An Irish First Aid supplier is calling on farming groups and rural communities to avail of free online demonstrations on the use of life saving defibrillators.

First Aid Supplies is organising a series of free online demonstrations for farmers and representative groups as well as wider rural communities to help people become familiar with the BeneHeart defibrillator.

A major study of farmers’ health, published last June as part of Men’s Health Week, found that 74% of male farmers had four or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This means they are three times more likely to have an acute cardiac event – stroke or heart attack – compared with those with fewer risk factors.

The findings emerged from a study involving Teagasc; the National Centre for Men’s Health at IT Carlow; the Irish Heart Foundation; Glanbia Ireland; the Health Services Executive (HSE); and University College Dublin College (UCD) of Health and Agricultural Sciences.

Chain of survival

Having early access to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) are critical steps in the cardiac chain of survival, according to the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC), the regulator for emergency medical services in Ireland.

First Aid Supplies managing director Gerry Breen said that the response to the online demonstrations of the BeneHeart defibrillator has been very encouraging.

Serious cardiac events normally happen without warning and rapid response is critical. People literally have minutes and that is why defibrillators are important.

“Communities, especially rurally based ones, were doing a lot of work training local first responders in the use of defibrillators but the outbreak of Covid-19 put the brakes on this.

“However, serious cardiac arrests continue, and may even be exacerbated by the stress associated with the pandemic, and so we are organising a series of online demonstrations for the farming community to teach people how to use the BeneHeart defibrillator,” Gerry said.

“We have a team of trainers located around the country who can demonstrate how BeneHeart works. A lot of people are unsure as to how to use defibrillators. They see them on walls outside premises and are almost intimidated to use them. We are committed to making people feel both competent and comfortable around them,” he said.

BeneHeart, which was designed to be fast, smart and easy to use, comes with instructions in English and Polish. It has voice commands that give more guidance to less experienced rescuers and continuous encouragement during CPR process.

“It is a powerful piece of equipment with escalating levels of shock, different levels for adults and children and with instructive visuals on the ‘with screen’ model that match selected adult or child patients. With overweight patients it automatically gives a stronger shock,” said Gerry.

“The online demos will be delivered over the course of the next few weeks and people can book their places by Freephone on: 1800 347782. The information people will learn may literally be a lifeline for others,” he said.

First Aid Supplies advice on how to use a defib (or AED):

  • A defib can be used by anyone, even people who have never used one before. If someone has collapsed and is unresponsive, check for breathing by looking, listening and feeling;
  •  If the person is not breathing call 999/112 immediately and send someone for the nearest defib while you begin CPR. That is the only chance of survival for someone in cardiac arrest;
  • Once switched on the defib will guide you through what to do, including placing pads on the patient’s chest;
  • You cannot deliver a shock to someone who does not need one – the defib will analyse the patient and will tell you if a shock is required so there is no need to be fearful;
  • Continue CPR as required.