13/01/2005

Quicker treatment hope for heart attack victims

A scheme aimed at bringing treatment to heart attack victims as quickly as possible will be launched this month in a number of regions across the province.

The Northern Ireland Public Access Defibrillation (NIPAD) project will involve training people working and living in north and west Belfast, Ballymena, Antrim and Magherafelt to render assistance to suspected cardiac victims, before an ambulance arrives. This wiull involve the trained persons using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) – a device which gives an electric shock to try to get the heart back to normal rhythm.

Backed by the Ambulance Service, the volunteers include people from all backgrounds and professions, including officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland who will be among those carrying defibrillators.

Assistant Chief Constable Roy Toner said: "Police officers in the pilot areas will use their training and mobility to contribute whenever possible towards the success of this scheme. We welcome the chance to work with others in the community to help save lives."

Around 600 people have already been trained across Northern Ireland, but more volunteers are still needed, particularly in the rural areas. The training involves one three hour session with follow up sessions every six months.

Those who have already undergone training say it is "straightforward and enjoyable".

Anyone interested in volunteering to join the scheme should live or work in north and west Belfast, Ballymena, Antrim or Magherafelt, hold a driving licence and have access to a vehicle.

(MB/SP)

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