herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

'TV showed me how to save heart attack victim', says woman

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris

A woman who saved a stranger from dying of a suspected heart attack said she learned life-saving CPR from watching TV.

"I'm not a medic, I just watch a lot of 24 Hours In A&E," said the woman, known only as Fiona.

The man, who is in his 50s, presented himself at St Columcille's Hospital in south Dublin last Wednesday complaining of chest pains.

But he claims he was turned away by hospital staff because he did not have a GP referral letter.

He left the hospital and travelled to Bray to see his doctor, but collapsed on Main Street on his way to the surgery.

Fiona told Joe Duffy's Liveline on RTE yesterday that she saw a crowd of people around the man.

"I was just up Main Street in Bray and I crossed the road and saw a crowd of people," she said.

"There was a man on the ground, everyone was in shock. I just bent over and said that he was OK and help was on the way.

"He didn't look great. I then realised he wasn't with us any more. He was gone.

"I just rolled him over on to his back. I was conscious of getting oxygen to his brain so I just started giving him chest compressions."

Fiona said she was going to keep giving him compressions for "as long as it took".

"It felt like 10 seconds but it was probably more like a couple of minutes," she said.

Recovering

"There just happened to be paramedic students in the area and someone flagged them down.

"They were able to administer defibrillation."

The man is now recovering at home following an operation, and St Columcille's Hospital has launched an investigation into his claims.

Health Minister Simon Harris will tell HSE bosses to hold a face-to-face meeting with the man's family.

The case, revealed by the Herald yesterday, prompted Mr Harris to order an investigation.

The minister said he wanted to establish the facts surrounding what had happened at St Columcille's.

After being turned away, the man took a bus to his home town of Bray and headed to his local GP surgery, only to collapse on Main Street following a suspected heart attack.

He was taken to St James's Hospital, where he underwent surgery.

Last night, sources confirmed that Mr Harris would write to HSE bosses ordering them to meet with the family to discuss what had happened.

"The minister is determined to get to the bottom of what happened here," one source said.

Sinn Fein TD John Brady, who first raised the case, said the man could have died but for the prompt first aid.

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