Thirteen clubs and churches have been presented with life-saving equipment by a local heart charity.
The defibrillators, which are used to resuscitate someone in the event of a cardiac arrest, were donated by Craigavon Cardiac Care Association (CCCA).
The machines cost around £1,000 each and were bought with money donated by the public, with the organisations each having to make a contribution of just £100.
The recipients were Annagh United; Bourneview Mill FC; Masonic Recreation Club, Portadown; Dungannon Free Presbyterian Church; Portadown Ladies’ Hockey Club; Banbridge Town FC; Markethill Swifts FC; St John’s Parochial Centre, Garvaghy Road; St Patrick’s Church, William Street; Thomas Street Methodist Church; St Mark’s Church of Ireland; Portadown Scout Hall, Mahon Road; and Lurgan Bowling and Tennis Club.
Around 120 representatives from the groups also received training on how to work the machines.
Rodney Wiggins, honorary secretary of CCCA for the past six years, said the charity’s annual Christmas draw is so well supported that the committee had decided two years ago to thank the community by supplying different groups with the defibrillators,
He explained that the machines are a vital piece of equipment but that many organisations, especially the smaller ones, can’t afford them.
Said Rodney, “They are very simple machines to use, they give you step-by-step instructions. If someone collapses the first thing to do is call 999. Then you put the defibrillator pads on and the machine assesses the heart rhythm and whether the person needs a shock or not. If they don’t, the machine won’t let you deliver a shock.
“If they do, you press the shock button and then do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the chest.”
According to the British Heart Foundation, after a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone’s chance of survival by 10 per cent.
Last year was the first time Craigavon Cardiac Care Association gave out the machines - with seven groups benefitting - and since then they have received a lot of applications for them.
Rodney added, “They need to be positioned somewhere readily accessible as time is of the essence when someone suffers a cardiac arrest.”
The Portadown man became involved with CCCA after suffering two heart attacks in 2001, which led to him undergoing a triple bypass and having to retire at the aged of just 51.
He said, “Afterwards I wanted to give something back to the heart ward at Craigavon. Being secretary is a very busy job but I love it.”
Craigavon Cardiac Care Association was formed in 1968 to carry out research into heart problems and the treatment of heart patients. All the money it raises goes to the cardiac department at Craigavon Area Hospital.
Its biggest project was a donation of £300,000 to the Cath Lab which opened in 2007. The state-of-the-art facility offers a range of diagnostic and treatment procedures, including the insertion of stents and pacemakers, previously only available in Belfast.
Not only do local people benefit but the additional capacity also relieves pressure on the other units, improving access for cardiac patients throughout Northern Ireland.
And just last year, CCCA bought equipment for Ward 1 North, the Cath Lab and the cardiac rehabilitation class. The classes help cardiac patients resume a normal life after surgery and give advice on adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Said Rodney, “If the department needs anything, they come to us and we do our best to buy it for them. The public has always supported us very well, both through the Christmas raffle and donations to collection boxes in various shops, and we would like to thank them again.”
The charity is always looking for more members to help with its fundraising activities.
It meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 7.45pm in the board room of Craigavon Area Hospital.
Anyone who wants to find out more should phone Rodney on 07845 404 742.