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The Short Strand community rise to the challenge

Published: Tue, 8 Mar 2016
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Short-strand residents participating in defibrillator training funded by us and run by the British Red Cross.
Defibrillator training
Short-strand mother raised £5,000 to buy five defibrillators after her husband died of a heart attack.
Bernie McConnell-Black started the campaign after her husband, Tommy, died suddenly from a heart-attack 21 February 2014. Whilst she will never know if a defibrillator located nearby would have helped Tommy she wanted to “try and make sure her neighbours never have to go through such a traumatic event and left wondering what if”.
As she wanted something positive to come out of the event, she initially set a target to buy two defibrillators, but the Short Strand community got fully behind the initiative and raised enough to purchase five potentially life-saving defibrillators.
With the help of the Short-Strand Community Forum, Bernie organised a number of fund-raising events which raised £5,000 that has resulted in four defibrillators being located at fixed points in the Short-Strand area and the fifth to be used on a roving basis.
Thanks to a Community Grant from us, training on how to use the defibrillators was funded. The grant meant 175 people living in the area, including our tenants, received training.
“I have never been so proud in my life of what all the people have helped me achieve in Tommy's memory. I am so pleased the community of Short Strand will benefit from having this equipment available and also the local people who will be trained to use this,” said Bernie:
“The defibrillator campaign has meant a lot to me and my family. Tommy used to joke and say he was from Carrickhill but his legacy is here with his family, and I hope in years to come when people are using the equipment they think of him.
Gary Ballantyne our Area Manager for South and East Belfast said:
“The Short-Strand community raised a fantastic amount to pay for the defibrillators so we were pleased to fund the vital training. Our tenants and the wider community are benefiting from the extra knowledge the emergency first-aid brings as well as giving them confidence to use the defibrillators should it prove necessary.”
Paul McCrory, Chair of the Short-Strand Community Association, said:
“Tommy was my brother-in-law and I was there when he had his heart attack. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in saving him but his memory will live on through the legacy of these defibrillators. The local community’s support for this has been incredible. On behalf of our family I’d like to thank them all. I’d also like to thank the local Housing Executive office for funding the defibrillator training giving so many the confidence and vital knowledge to use should the situation arise.”
The defibrillators are as light as a bag of sugar with batteries which last up to four years and are produced in Ireland. The defibrillator packs come with full instructions and the capacity to lead the user through the situation by talking to them and lighting up the illustration on the pad at appropriate points to provide reassurance during a stressful time.