Young Westmeath footballer Cathal Joyce had just come off the bench and was going through a routine warm-up, preparing to go on the pitch as a substitute for his club Athlone GAA, when he suddenly collapsed.
The 25-year-old athlete’s heart had stopped, dropping him to the ground. He was suffering from a cardiac arrest in front of a stadium filled with horror-struck people.
Team physiotherapist and Cathal’s own brother, James, ran to help as Cathal lay on the ground of the Cusack stadium in Mullingar. He was soon joined by Patrick Boland, a doctor and player with opposing team Rosemount, who began performing life-saving CPR.
CPR, First Responder, Defibrillator
They were quickly joined by others trained in CPR – Donal Mac Caba, an off-duty Emergency First Responder, as well as physiotherapists Stacey Egan and Gerry Summers.
Cathal received shocks from a defibrillator which brought him round, and was immediately taken to hospital. Within days, the 25-year-old was fit enough again to tweet his thanks to all those who helped save his life – a testament to the vital importance of CPR training.
Cathal’s experience shows that CPR training is imperative if we are serious about saving peoples’ lives in Ireland. “I wouldn’t be alive today but for the fact that people around me knew how to do CPR and use the defibrillator. The more people that are trained in CPR in Ireland, the better for everyone,” he says.
Life-support training needed in Irish schools
Life-support training may have started slowly in Ireland compared with America, where it is now commonplace that students are taught the life-saving technique. In fact, some 34 US states have made it a legal requirement for students to have acquired a hands-on, guidelines-based CPR training in order to graduate high school.
CPR training courses are saving lives
However, CPR training in Ireland is currently provided to more than 65,000 people per year, thanks to the outreach of Irish Heart-affiliated life-saver courses. Survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests were under 1% before 2007; today they are around 6.5%.
Campaign to teach CPR in secondary schools
Irish Heart is currently pushing for CPR training to become part of the curriculum in Ireland’s secondary schools. A pilot programme in 2009 successfully saw some 27,000 school students trained, with many of them going on to save lives.
Early CPR can double if not triple a person’s chance of survival. Learning CPR in a course can give people confidence in knowing what to do in these circumstances. For information, please see our articles on CPR methods, defibrillators and our range of CPR courses available in your area or CPR for your school.
It could save your life or someone you know.