Thursday 23 November 2017

'It could have been a very different outcome' - Heroic school staff help save boy's life with defibrillator

Quick-thinking Principal Tim O Tuachaigh helped to save the boy's life
Quick-thinking Principal Tim O Tuachaigh helped to save the boy's life

Kathy Armstrong

A heroic school principal helped save a boy's life by performing CPR and using a defibrillator on him when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

When a nine-year-old boy collapsed in the playground of Gaelscoil Ros Eo in Rush, north Co Dublin on September 4 the quick-thinking staff managed to help revive him.

Principal Tim O Tuachaigh has spoken about the nightmare scenario to Independent.ie today and said he's just grateful that the boy - whose identity is being protected - is now "out of the woods" and recovering.

He said: "When the boy collapsed in the yard the teacher on duty shouted for me, I knew looking at him that he wasn't in a good way.

"Straight away staff cleared children out of the playground and called 999.

"We started on CPR, it was a real group effort."

Defibrillator: stock photo
Defibrillator: stock photo

The school is temporarily located in prefabs on the grounds of St Maurs GAA Club and luckily Tim remembered that the club has a defibrilator.

He said: "I don't even remember saying it but I was told afterwards that I asked one of the staff to get the defibrillators, one of the club's office staff, Stacey, has some training in it and she came over.

"It's called an AED and it is a brilliant thing, absolutely amazing, once it was hooked up the machine gives vocal instructions and talked us through what to do, step-by-step.

"It took about 25 minutes for the fire brigade to come and for most of that time we were doing CPR and using the defibrilator."
As first reported in The Irish Sun, the ambulance crew praised the school staff for their actions.

Tim told Independent.ie: "I was absolutely petrified, I had all sorts of stuff going through my head about what could happen.

"I was looking at him and I had a choice to do something or do nothing.

"The ambulance workers said afterwards that it could have been a very different story."

Tim said that the boy is recovering still in hospital and his parents have been informed he has a previously-undiagnosed heart condition but "it looks like he will make a full recovery."

The boy collapsed in the playground of Gael Scoil Ros Eo
The boy collapsed in the playground of Gael Scoil Ros Eo

He said: "His parents are utterly shocked, they couldn't believe something like this could happen, they had no idea.

"I'm in constant contact with them to see how he is but they're still in hospital with him all the time so I think they probably haven't processed it fuly."

He added that he thinks that defibrilators and training for how to use them should be widely available.

He explained: "When I looked back I started asking myself questions, in my 25 years of teaching I had never heard of a child suffering a cardiac arrest, adults and teenagers, yes, but never a child.

"I wouldn't have thought that defibrilators in primary schools were a priority before but now my thinking has completely changed.

"It is very harrowing and trying to get everyone back on an even keel is very difficult."

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