On Sunday, April 24th, Brendan Duffy’s morning began normally, as he cycled from his home in Buncrana to meet with fellow cyclists in Drumfries.
Within minutes of his arrival, Brendan had collapsed. He suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, one of the leading causes of death in Ireland and across the world.
Brendan could have been included in those statistics but he is currently making a recovery, thanks to the “amazing” actions of people and services there on the day. These people and their actions were the ‘Chain of Survival’ and they all gathered at the Sliabh Sneacht Centre in Drumfries on Wednesday night for a vital community awareness programme.
The event, organised by Buncrana Red Cross, was due to begin at 8pm, but people continued to stream in long afterwards. Such was the interest in the event and the topic - awareness of defibrillator locations around Buncrana - that extra seats had to be brought in and others stood and listened.
Each of those who helped Brendan on the day spoke about what they did to ensure his survival - from administering CPR to dialling 999 or 112 or obtaining the defibrillator and being the ambulance or medical personnel on the scene. Each of them were a key link in the chain of survival - the importance of which was not underestimated,
Joseph Quinn, chaiperson of Buncrana Red Cross, explained how 70% of cardiac arrests occur out of hospital or in the presence of a family member.
He added how, “if certain things happen in a certain order then the chances of survival are increased and this is the chain of survival.” There are five key components: Early Access - dial 999 or 112 without delay; Early CPR - begin CPR if the patient is not breathing; Early defibrillation - get the defibrillator attached as soon as possible. This is perhaps the most significant link. Early ALS (Advanced Life Support) - get the ambulance and doctor to the patient quickly and Early Post Resuscitation Care in hospital.
Brendan told how he had been speaking to Mickey McDaid outside the Drumfries centre “and that’s all I can remember.” He had collapsed. Mr McDaid acted quickly, calling 112 while two off-duty Gardai David Lavery and Conor Mulkearns administered CPR. Charlie McDaid and Paul Scott travelled to the nearby Inishowen Engineering, where they knew there was a defibrillator, and a passing off-duty nurse, Tina Stewart, who was on her way home from work, stopped to assist. When the ambulance crew of Paul Duffy and Wesley Orr arrived, CPR was in progress and the defibrillator had been used. They changed to another defibrillator and delivered two shocks. They were joined on the scene by off duty Red Cross Emergency First Responder Patrick Doherty who lived nearby. Mr Duffy’s pulse was regained and he was transferred to Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital. He joined with those who saved his life, his ‘chain of survival’ on Wednesday night to thank them for all they did and to raise awareness of the importance of CPR and defibrillators.
Also on the scene that morning was Dr Brewer of NowDoc, who raised a laugh when he spoke of ‘Mimils’ - Middle-Aged Men in Lycra. However, he took a serious tone when he urged those who are taking up cycling or strenous activity to take a stress test before doing so.
Henry McLaughlin from Burnfoot, who suffered a cardiac arrest at a funeral, told how he too was saved due to the quick actions of those in attendance, including Sheena Callaghan of Burt Red Cross and the administration of CPR and a defibrillator located at Burt GAA club.
Martin McKinney, Red Cross Area Director urged the community to learn CPR and get acquainted with the defibrillator locations. He said: “We need you, the community. We need you now to save more lives.”
Registered defibrillators in the Buncrana area are at Ardaravan Clinic; Buncrana Medical Centre; Supervalu, Buncrana; Buncrana Fire Station; Buncrana Golf Club; Buncrana GAA Club; Buncrana Youth Club; Crana College; Irish Red Cross, Illies; North West Golf Club; Maginn Football Club; Inishowen Engineering; Buncrana Community Hospital; Inishowen Gateway Hotel; Irish Red Cros Drumfries; Scoil Mhuire, Cockhill Celtic FC and Dunree Football Club.