Tuesday, 13 May 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
132. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to improve medical training for gardaí having regard to evidence heard at a recent inquest in County Carlow into the death of a person who had been arrested on suspicion of drink driving, but who had actually suffered a stroke; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12775/03]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): First, it is clearly a matter of the greatest regret that any person, for whatever reason, should lose his life in this way and it is right that we should convey our condolences to the friends and family of the man concerned.
Moving from the circumstances of the individual case – and I think it right in all the circumstances that we should not focus on the particular case which has been the subject already of an inquest – I think it is not unreasonable, as a general observation, to say that even those who have extensive medical training can sometimes miss the signs that somebody is quite ill.
I am informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the training of Garda members, that first aid is a compulsory element of the physical education, health and safety studies module of the student-probationer education-training programme. In order to progress in the student Garda education training programme each student must attain pass standard of competence in first aid.
The first aid course delivered adequately, equips each student to identify and render basic first aid at the scene of an accident or emergency. The course covers a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. Up to now, the identification of a stroke victim has not been specifically covered on the course but the course is now being extended to include stroke identification.
It is not possible to provide first aid training to meet all eventualities and emergencies. Garda regulations provide that medical assistance be summonsed for a person where it appears to the member that such assistance is required.
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