Heroic Garda saves a life with CPR

By June Shannon CPR News   |   10th Dec 2019

We spoke with heroic garda Niamh Connaughton, who recently used her CPR skills to save the life of a Dublin marathon runner

When Garda Niamh Connaughton from Clondalkin Garda Station started her shift at the Dublin Marathon on Sunday the 27th of October last, little did she know that she would save a life that day.

Originally from Galway but working in Dublin for the past 10 years, Garda Connaughton said she was on duty in Chapelizod patrolling the marathon when towards the end of her shift she heard a woman shouting for help.

Together with her colleagues, Niamh ran to help and found one of the participants in the marathon collapsed on the ground.

Initially Niamh said it was unclear whether the runner had fallen and hit his head or if he had suffered a cardiac event. When Niamh checked for a pulse, she couldn’t find one, so she immediately started CPR while her colleagues called for medical assistance.

Within minutes an advanced paramedic arrived with a defibrillator. Niamh recalled that the defibrillator delivered one shock and then another paramedic continued the CPR.

“It was afterwards when the medic said to me, “look I don’t think you realise what you did there, you saved that man’s life. I don’t think you realise how vital CPR is in the first two minutes,”

Garda Niamh Connaughton

At that stage the runner began to come back around, and Niamh noticed that his hands, which were cold when she first came on the scene, begun to warm up – a sign that his heart was pumping again. She had saved his life.

With the arrival of more paramedics Niamh said she stood back to allow them to care for the patient.

Like all gardai in Ireland Niamh has received first aid training which includes CPR and she said she didn’t really think about what was happening as she simply allowed her training to take over.

“You do what you have to do,” she said.

It was only afterwards when the attending medic told her she had saved a life, did Niamh realize the enormity of her actions.

“It was afterwards when the medic said to me, “look I don’t think you realise what you did there, you saved that man’s life. I don’t think you realise how vital CPR is in the first two minutes,” it was at that point then that I got overwhelmed and I realised what had happened,” Niamh said.

The day after the marathon Niamh visited the gentleman in hospital to see how he was doing, and she was delighted to see he was doing well.

He has since returned home to his family who, thanks to Niamh’s heroic actions, are not facing their first Christmas without him.

“It can happen to anyone in your family or you could be walking down the road …just to know what to do is vital,"

Garda Niamh Connaughton

Niamh said she would like everyone to know just how important CPR is and she encouraged everyone to learn this lifesaving skill

“It can happen to anyone in your family or you could be walking down the road …just to know what to do is vital. The living proof is that he came back and how important it was at the time that we knew what to do. It could have been at any stage of the marathon, it could have been after the marathon, it could have been anywhere but the importance of knowing CPR and knowing what to do is absolutely vital,” Niamh said.

In 2019, the Irish Heart Foundation launched a new free community CPR training programme, Hands for Life.

The programme, which is supported by Abbott and ESB Networks, offers free CPR training to 100,000 people in local communities throughout Ireland.

Hands for Life training courses take place in local community centres, clubs and libraries across Ireland over the next two years.

To sign up today for your free CPR training and learn how to save a life please see here

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bystander CPR cardiac arrest CPR CPR training Hands for Life

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