A retired consultant surgeon has said more lives could be saved if the HSE worked with community groups to publicly identify the location of defibrillators.
Peter Naughton has set up a new initiative in Co Laois to map the location of the portable devices, used to assist somebody suffering from sudden cardiac arrest, after the HSE said they could not publicly reveal their whereabouts due to GDPR regulations.
The Portlaoise group got the support of Laois County Council, Laois Sports Partnership and the Lions club in the town to fund an operation to create a new database and map all defibrillators in the county, provide new machines in towns where they were not available at all and provide training in CPR and the use of the defibrillators.
The group is now working with the National Ambulance Service to ensure that anybody who calls 999 or 112 will be immediately given the exact location of the nearest defibrillator in their area.
The nine main towns in Co Laois have at least one defibrillator now and seven parishes have devices that are available 24/7 as part of the imitative that was also supported in some areas by the proceeds of the Electric Picnic festival last year .
The group's initiative was welcomed by locals, including Mick Carroll who suffered a heart attack last August in the Portlaoise area while out playing soccer.
It is estimated that there are over 10,000 defibrillators at locations around Ireland, but the emergency services only know the location of 2,000 of these.
They are either unaware of the location of the others or cannot access them because they have been locked away on private property.