Wednesday 20 February 2019

Hero principal hits out in row over defibrillators

Tim O Tuachaigh
Tim O Tuachaigh

A principal who helped to save the life of a student has criticised the Department of Education for saying that installing defibrillators in schools is the responsibility of boards of management.

Tim O Tuachaigh, head of Gaelscoil Ros Eo in Rush, north county Dublin, helped save a nine-year-old boy by using a defibrillator from the local GAA club after he was taken ill on September 4.

Parents and staff credited the head teacher's actions for keeping the boy stable until the emergency services arrived.

Mr O Tuachaigh has stepped up a campaign to have a defibrillator installed in every school in the country.

He was critical of the dep- artment for saying it was not responsible for providing the life-saving devices.

"Some schools have defibrillators because they fundraised or had them donated, but it's vital that every school has one," said Mr O Tuachaigh.


"At around €1,500 for a unit with training, it would cost around €6m.

"That's not a huge amount of money for the Government. These devices will save lives."

The department told the Herald that the board of management was charged with the direct governance of a school.

"The decision to install a defibrillator is made at school level and is a matter for the board of management of each individual school," said a spokeswoman.

But Mr O Tuachaigh said the department did not provide funds for defibrillators.

"It is the Government that funds the schools, therefore it is they that would have to provide the schools with the money needed," he said.

Mr O Tuachaigh said the only reason staff were able to lay their hands on a defibrillator was because the GAA club next door had one that was donated by the Apache pizza company.

The 212 pupils and 12 staff were just settling into the new school year when the fourth class boy collapsed in the yard.

"He was totally unresponsive and his breathing was bad, and it became obvious very quickly that he needed CPR, which I started straight away," said Mr O Tuachaigh.

"I don't remember telling anyone to get the defibrillator from St Maurs Club next to us, but I've been told that I did.

"Three fire engines and an ambulance arrived 25 minutes later, and the crews told us that if we had not done what we did it could have been a different outcome."

The boy was stabilised and took to hospital and has since undergone surgery. He is now back at home recovering.

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