Croke Park, April 4th 2013. Round Tower members sit in the Hogan Stand and field questions from national media as the Ciarán Carr Foundation is launched. Clubman and Dublin Senior Football Manager Jim Gavin, Andy Kettle, former Chairman of the Dublin County Board who passed on before his time, and Dublin footballer Kevin O’Brien are there to lend their support. Two years on, 29 schools across Clondalkin are now equipped with defibrillators because of the endeavours of the Foundation. Teachers from the respective schools have been trained in use of potential life-saving equipment within settings that see thousands of children and teenagers pass through their doors every day. The fruits of the Foundation’s excellent endeavours extend beyond the schools and are spread across the community; in Clondalkin village, in Bawnogue, Neilstown and Quarryvale. Shops, pharmacies and pubs are now equipped with life-saving equipment.
The Foundation was set up in tragic circumstances. Ciarán collapsed while training with Round Tower Senior Footballers on January 20th 2012. Despite the best efforts of his teammates, coaches and the emergency services Ciarán died in Tallaght Hospital shortly after arrival. His death was attributed to what is commonly known as Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). Ciarán’s death shocked the club, the Clondalkin community and the public at large.
Two years on from the Foundation launch, Gemma Carr, Ciarán’s mother, recalls its establishment. “After Ciarán’s passing we asked how could we stop this happening again; what is the best thing we can do. A group of us had a meeting and we decided to start the Foundation.”
The Foundation was established with a number of objectives. Amongst these were the requirement for teams managers and mentors to be trained in the use of defibrillator and life-saving equipment, the requirement for greater awareness and promotion of SADs and its associated symptoms, and for players to undertake regular screening in an effort to identify possible symptoms.
“We set about bringing awareness to people and saw what was out there to educate and support people and then put these in the path of people,” Gemma states. The Foundation engaged with CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) Tallaght, the Mater Hospital and Irish Heart Foundation and promoted the services they provide in heart screening to the wider community. Their services were utilised to screen Towers players.
What was to have been Ciarán’s 21st birthday in Round Tower GAA Club was turned into a fundraiser. ‘A Night for Ciarán’ raised €24,000 that was presented to the CRY Foundation in Tallaght Hospital in his memory. Round Tower was provided with defibrillators that remain available to potentially save lives. The focus moved towards not just creating awareness of SADS and training people in CPR, but to the provision of life-saving equipment for the wider community. The Foundation engaged with local schools. Out of twenty nine in Clondalkin, only seven had access to a defibrillator. Given the number of schoolchildren in Clondalkin attending both primary and secondary schools, it gave rise to serious concern. The Foundation started to spread awareness to the extended community re SADs and it in turn embraced the charity. On 5th October 2013 around 1,000 people participated in a fun run to support the charity in fundraising to provide local schools with defibrilators. “The support this community has shown us never ceases to amaze me,” Gemma commented after the event. “A common misconception is that only those who are engaged in sporting activity can suffer a sudden cardiac trauma. Unfortunately this can happen at any time, in any place and the need for more public access defibrillators is essential.” 30 primary and secondary schools are now equipped with defibrillators because of the endeavours of the Foundation and three to five teachers in each of the schools have been trained in using the equipment and CPR / AED training.
The momentum behind the Foundation has also enabled defibrilators to be placed in key strategic locations in Clondalkin village, the Dutch village, Cherrywood, Bawnogue, Greenpark, Neilstown, Ninth Lough and Newlands Cross.
“A lot of people associate SADs with footballers such as Fabrice Muamba or Cormac McAnallen in Ireland but it can affect anybody,” Barry Keane, a friend of Ciarán’s and of the Foundation explains. Muamba is a footballer who collapsed during an FA Cup match after suffering a heart attack but survived thanks to the quick intervention of medical assistance. “There is a lot of awareness out there but we want to see more created around it. It is about trying to make access to defibrillators as wide as possible and educate people about their use. Teachers are working with large numbers of young people on a daily basis and we would be of the view it is vital they are trained. Yet teachers are coming from college and not trained in first aid.” Gemma and Barry feel the State should take a lead in facilitating the training of CPR / AED and in proper use of defibribaltors. They are of the view it should lead in respect of educating personnel in key disciplines who have ongoing engagement with people. They cite a module during teacher and Garda training as examples. A State lead in greater promotion and awareness of the importance of CPR / AED training and in providing and promoting access to defibrillators within public settings can put the onus on communities and community organisations to also take a lead, they state.
In May 2013 a Bill tabled by Senator Fergal Quinn was presented before Seanad Éireann. It stipulated owners of particular types of premises and venues would be required to install and maintain defibrillators for public use and train staff in their use. However it failed to move beyond the Seanad. “The reality is there is little political will at present to introduce such a measure because the amount of people who die because of SADs – 100 a year – is not enough,” Barry comments.
Providing the training and access to CPR / AED equipment is very important and Barry is keen to emphasise the importance of refresher training. “I’d have a concerns clubs might do the training for show more,” he states. “Clubs will do the training but then the personnel change such as managers or players and they are not trained to use the equipment. It is very important organisations such as clubs who are engaging with young people and adults continually focus on ensuring personnel are trained in AED and use of defibrillators.”
The Foundation is engaging with Minister for Justice and local TD Frances Fitzgerald as it is hoping to embark upon an initiative to train all Gardaí stationed in Clondalkin and Ronanstown in CPR and use of defib equipment. Plans are also underway to equip Main Street Clondalkin with such equipment and the Foundation has moved beyond Clondalkin, training teachers in schools in Saggart and Rathcoole in AED. It will also be providing training in Newcastle, Tallaght and Lucan. Having made such a significant impact in the Clondalkin community, its positive influence is spreading beyond.
Gemma concludes by thanking the people of Clondalkin. “They’ve been so supportive and generous in supporting what we have done and myself, Philip [Ciarán’s father] and the Foundation are extremely thankful and grateful.”
Article by Mick McGlynn, Round Tower PRO. Thank you to the Foundation for their cooperation.
For more information about the Foundation visit www.ciarancarrfoundation.ie
The schools that have received defibs courtesy of the Ciarán Carr Foundation
Scoil Mochua National School
Scoil Nano Nagle Senior National School, Bawnogue
Scoil Talbot Junior National , Bawnogue
St Kevin’s Community College Secondary School, Fonthill Rd
Sacred Heart National School, Sruleen
Scoil Mhuire National School, Tower Rd
Scoil Ide National School, New Rd
Scoil Aine National School, New Rd
St Peter Apostles Junior National School, Neilstown
St Peter Apostles Senior National School, Neilstown
St Joseph’s Boys National School, Tower Rd
Collinstown Park Community College, Rowlagh
Gaelscoil Na Camóige, Orchard Rd
Moyle Park College, Boys Secondary School, Tower Rd
Coláiste Bríde, Girls Secondary School, New Rd
Coláiste Chillian, Secondary School, Nangor Rd
Gaelscoil Chluain Dolcáin, National School, Nangor Rd
St Mary’s Junior National School, Rowlagh
St Mary’s Senior National School, Rowlagh
St Bernadette’s Junior National School, Quaryvale
St Bernadette’s Senior National School, Quaryvale
Caraline Learning Centre, Lynch’s Lane Balgaddy
Divine Mercy Junior National School, Balgaddy
Divine Mercy Senior National School, Balgaddy
Youthreach, Monastery Rd
St Ronan’s National School, Deansrath
Our Lady Queen of Apostles, National School, Clonburris
Deansrath Community College Secondary School, Deansrath
St John’s National School, Tower Rd
Businesses to receive defibs
Mannions Newsagents, Castle Shopping Centre
Bradleys Pharmacy, Dutch Village Shopping Centre
Cherrywood Pharmacy, Cherrywood
Bawnogue Pharmacy, Bawnogue
Finches Pub, Neilstown
Topaz Garage, Newlands Cross
Waterside Pub, Ninth Lock