Dad's praise for 'three angels' who saved his life after heart attack
Dubliner Steve Lawlor has said he owes his life to three women who helped bring him back from the dead after he suffered a massive heart attack while driving.
Yesterday, the 45-year-old met one of his "three angels" - Councillor Kate O'Connell. She gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after he was found slumped over the wheel of his van in Rathgar.
Steve told the Herald his remarkable tale of survival and how he was lucky to be alive and was looking forward to the new year after his ordeal.
Dad-of-one Steve explained how the incident happened on Sunday, November 1. He had been visiting his mother in Blessington and was returning to his home in Rathfarnham.
"I was driving home at around 6.30pm and my last recollection is setting off for home," he said.
He was driving a van and was on his own. In Rathgar, an onlooker saw the vehicle come to a peculiar halt in the middle of the road, and it then rolled to the side of the road.
Maria Young recognised what was going on and quickly went to his aid.
Fortunately Maria is a former nurse who worked in the Mater Hospital and had also worked in paediatric cardiology in Crumlin Hospital.
"There was another lady there who was a physiotherapist, who I have not been able to get a hold of at all," said Steve.
Meanwhile, Kate O'Connell, a Fine Gael councillor with a pharmacy in the village, was alerted to what was going on and arrived to help as well.
While Kate performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the other two women did chest compressions and kept him going. They took it in turns until the ambulance arrived.
Kate said that Steve had no pulse when she arrived at the scene.
"We did 12 or 15 minutes of serious cpr on essentially a guy that was not alive," she said.
"The fire brigade arrived. They had to shock him to bring him back and it took him three shocks. It was only on the third shock that they got a heart rate," she said.
Steve was brought to St James's Hospital. "I woke up in the hospital with a whole lot of tubes," he said.
Surgeons installed three stents in Steve.
He will have to undergo cardio rehab in the first week of January.
"I'm so lucky that there were three angels on the scene who had the knowledge and expertise to sufficiently keep me going, that I was gone for so long, that there was no brain damage or more significant damage to the heart itself.
"The cardiologist is eager to hear the story because he reckons I am just incredibly lucky to be alive," he said.
Steve has a son, Ryan, who is nearly nine, and a partner Karen Thompson (46). "I was just so mindful over the Christmas period that I got to enjoy it with the family, and how different it all might have been,"he said.
"My phone was left behind at the scene, and Maria Young went through the numbers and found mum's number and rang her.
"When they were in touch with the hospital, they were kind of preparing my family for the worst," he said.
However, the expertise of the public and the emergency services was what saved Steve.
He is a service engineer with Trane, a multinational company that specialises in air conditioning. "They have been brilliant to me," he said.
Steve is now planning an event to raise money for a defibrillator for the Blue Light pub in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, and to have staff members trained up in its use.
Kate said the incident highlighted the importance of cpr training.