A COAST GUARD volunteer has been hailed as a hero for saving the life of a dog after performing CPR on it.
Hector, a three-year-old collie, stopped breathing after a ball lodged in its throat. But Gary Creighton carried out CPR on the family pet and brought him back to life.
"If it wasn't for Gary and the Skerries Coast Guard, there is no doubt that Hector would be dead," said Colette Connolly, Hector's owner.
Every morning Colette and her two dogs – Hector (3) and Libby (2) – go for an early-morning run on the south beach at Rush in north county Dublin. "We were playing ball and it bounded high and as he jumped up to catch it he twisted and landed badly on his back legs. The ball went way down the back of his throat."
The ball is made for dogs and would not usually get stuck in the animal's throat.
"I could feel it in his throat with my hand and I started trying to push it back up his throat. He was getting short of breath and collapsed on to the sand. I was trying to stay calm and must have spent eight minutes trying to push the ball back up out of his throat."
Colette was about to give up. "Then I looked up and saw a white jeep. I ran at it like a mad woman waving my arms and it stopped."
It was a Skerries Coast Guard 4x4 and driver Gary Creighton went straight into life-saving mode.
Gary, who is a fully trained 'cardiac first responder' and an officer in the Order of Malta in Balbriggan said: "I just thought okay, what would I do to relieve choking in a person – he was a pretty big dog so I started doing chest compressions."
As he did them, Colette kept trying to push the ball up the dog's throat and then they saw it appear at the top of his throat and Gary pulled it out.
"His heart started to beat and he began breathing. I just threw my arms around Gary. He was like an angel coming from heaven to our rescue."
Vanessa Gaffney, officer in charge with Skerries Coast Guard, said it was the first time in living memory an animal was rescued using advanced first aid.
The Skerries Coast Guard is run by volunteers and covers 30 miles of coastline from Malahide in Co Dublin to Laytown in Co Meath.