Cadet movement plays new role in saving lives in the community

14 March 2013

Adult Instructors in Northern Ireland’s Army Cadet Force are pioneering a new training scheme, learning how to use defibrillators in life or death situations.

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Northern Ireland and the Army Cadet Force Association have joined forces and, together, have funded three new defibrillators which will be used by Adult Instructors to help save local lives.

Currently adult volunteers from right across Northern Ireland are being added to the army of people able - and equipped - to help in an emergency as the new defibrillators will support the UK’s first Army Cadet Force scheme designed to train their members in the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The defibrillator works by delivering a controlled electric shock through the chest wall, to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. When someone has a cardiac arrest cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation needs to be prompt as for every minute that passes the chances of survival decrease by around 10 per cent.

Launching the Cadet scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, Colonel Maurice Warnock, Commandant of 2nd (Northern Ireland) Battalion Army Cadet Force, said:

"We all hope that none of our Cadet Leaders or Cadets are ever called upon to use this equipment but we firmly believe that they should be prepared and capable of giving this sort of life saving treatment should it be required.

"British Heart Foundation (BHF) Northern Ireland has highlighted the need for more people to be trained in how to provide CPR and use a defibrillator. CPR and defibrillation enhances the ACFs already extensive First Aid work and gives a real understanding of when and how defibrillation should be administered. I know our people well enough to know that, in the face of an emergency; they would step up to the plate and do what is necessary to save a life."

Stephanie Leckey, BHF Northern Ireland Area Development Manager, welcomed the initiative, said:

"We’re thrilled to be working in partnership with the Army Cadet Force on something that is so vitally important to local people. Around 1,600 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital in Northern Ireland each year, of which less than 10 per cent will survive to be discharged from hospital.

"It is vitally important that people in Northern Ireland learn CPR so they know what to do if they encounter someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest. BHF Northern Ireland has a long standing partnership with the Army Cadet Force since the ACF became a Heartstart scheme in 2004.

"A defibrillator may not always be available, therefore CPR can ‘buy time’ until a defibrillator arrives."

The initiative was the ‘brain child’ of Sergeant Major Instructor Don Mackay who chairs Northern Ireland’s Regional ACFA First Aid Panel. On behalf of the Cadets and their leaders, Colonel Warnock congratulated him on his enthusiasm for seeing this project through to its launch phase and providing the vision for its further development. Once adult training has been completed it will be the turn of the senior cadets. We would hope that similar schemes will be rolled out across the UK.

Pictured: Adult Instructor Don Brown from east Belfast sharpens up his skills with Stephanie Leckey, Area Development Manager of the British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland.