Irish News

Wednesday 23 July 2014

'I owe them my life' - Teen whose heart stopped after prank thanks fire crews for saving him

Ralph Riegel and Conor Feehan

Published 03/05/2014|10:24

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A DUBLIN teen whose heart stopped during horseplay with friends has said an emotional thank-you to the fire brigade paramedics who saved his life.

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Roberto Rea (17) went into cardiac arrest when a number of teens sat on his chest not far from his St David’s secondary school off Whitethorn Grove during a prank that horribly backfired on April 10.

The teen’s chest was constricted and his heart lost its normal rhythm causing him to lose consciousness.

Incredibly, Roberto wasn’t breathing unaided for 15 minutes, but thanks to the skill of Dublin Fire Brigade’s North Strand-based paramedics Donal Brennan, Robbie Hedderman and Jason Kennedy, they got him back breathing after working on him frantically for 30 minutes.

They were assisted at the scene by Kilbarrack-based personnel Donal Maguire, Martin Troy, Kevin Rowe and Joe Kiernan. It took the paramedics three jolts from a defibrillator coupled with the administration of emergency cardiac drugs including adrenaline to get Roberto’s heart back working.

“I owe them my life – I just wanted to come here today to say thanks. But I don’t remember anything that happened that day,” Roberto said.

Astonishingly, despite not breathing unaided for 15 minutes, he suffered no brain damage or ill-effects from the incident.

2 May 2014; Roberto Rea, 17, from Artane, with firemen/paramedics: Robert Hedderman, left, and Donal Brennan, from North Strand.  Dublin Fire brigade North Strand, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Roberto Rea (17) from Artane, with firemen/paramedics: Robert Hedderman, left, and Donal Brennan, from North Strand. Dublin Fire brigade North Strand, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

He was in an induced coma for two days and doctors warned his mother, June, and his brother-in-law, Brian Bridgeman, to prepare themselves for the possibility he may have suffered life-changing injuries.

“When he opened his eye and we realised within a few hours that he would be Ok, everyone told us it was a miracle,” Brian said.

As a precautionary measure, surgeons at Beaumont Hospital installed a mini-defibrillator in Roberto’s chest.

“I just don’t know how to say thanks for what Dublin Fire Brigade paramedics did that day,” June told the Herald.

“Roberto is only here today because of the skill and training of the paramedics. I will never be able to thank them enough. Roberto owes them his life.”

The paramedics said they were delighted the call-out had such a happy ending.

“We’re just pleased that Roberto is OK.

“We knew it was a very, very serious situation but what made all the difference was the speed of the 999 call, the speed of the response, the training we had and the treatment we were able to offer at the scene,” Donal Brennan explained.

The paramedics’ efforts were aided by local teen Jordan O’Neill, who was talked through doing emergency resuscitation (CPR) at the scene before he was relieved in doing the life-saving procedure on Roberto by St David’s teacher Mick Nally. Both worked on Roberto in the minutes before the paramedics arrived.

“I just want to say thanks from the bottom of my heart to the paramedics, to everyone who helped at the scene, to all the staff at St David’s, to the wonderful nurses and doctors at Beaumont and to my family for all their support,” added June.

Dublin Fire Brigade’s 3rd Officer  John Keogh said the outcome was a testimony to the skill and training of the paramedics involved.

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