Crossgar to lead the way in community heart care

Crossgar to lead the way in community heart care

19 December 2012

CROSSGAR is to play a pioneering role in the treatment of cardiac arrest.

The village will be the first in Northern Ireland to take part in a ground-breaking initiative which will see a defibrillator placed in a phone box for use by members of the public during an emergency.

Crossgar is at the centre of a community-based first aid training and equipment project, in partnership with Queen’s University’s Medical Faculty, which will result in a defibrillator being placed in a telephone kiosk in Downpatrick Street, opposite AJ’s Diner.

The project is part of a pilot scheme which is being supported by the British Red Cross. A number of community representatives are currently being trained how to use the lifesaving equipment which will be placed in a vandal-proof box. People will still be able to make calls from the kiosk.

Research undertaken by Queen’s University and a local GP established there was a need for community defibrillators, and a recent fashion show in the village raised enough money to finance the project for the next eight years.

Down councillors are being asked to purchase the Crossgar kiosk from British Telecom for a fee of £1 and it will then become the responsibility of the local community. The council will not be responsible for maintaining the kiosk or the defibrillator.

The Crossgar project will be monitored for a period and if successful, the initiative could be rolled out to other rural areas across the Province.

Mrs. Dolores Smyth, a retired nurse who lives in the village, was on holiday in Bristol when she saw a defibrillator placed in the community for local people to use to assist those who suffered a cardiac arrest.

She recognised the importance of having such equipment in Crossgar and working with others, including Paula Powell from the British Red Cross and local GP, Dr. Nigel Hart, set about having one provided in her home village.

Mrs. Smyth was also instrumental in helping organise Crossgar Golf Club’s recent fashion show to raise funds to finance the defibrillator project and said support has also been provided by the local business community.

“The defibrillator will be placed in a locked container with the unlocking code provided by the Ambulance Service when people dial 999. BT are happy to install the equipment on behalf of the Red Cross and the local community. The telephone box will be clearly marked to indicate the presence of a defibrillator,” explained Mrs. Smyth.

Mr. Paul Teggart, chairman of the Crossgar Community Association, said he is delighted the village has been chosen for the location of the ground-breaking pilot project. He also praised Mrs. Smyth for spearheading the initiative along with the Red Cross, Dr. Hart and Queen’s University.

Rowallane councillor Terry Andrews said the importance of equipping people with skills to help save lives cannot be emphasised enough.

“I am pleased Crossgar was chosen as the area to pilot the community defibrillator initiative and have no doubt this project will save lives.”