Monday 19 August 2019

Siobhan's heartfelt thanks to Red Cross

Margaret Roddy

Dundalk woman Siobhán Jordan has said a heartfelt thank you to the Irish Red Cross for saving her life when she collapsed just short of the finishing line while taking part in Dublin's Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon last August.

The then 27 year old from the Point Road was only a hundred meters from crossing the line when she went into cardiac arrest.

'Luckily for me, there were Red Cross volunteers at the end who got to me within 16 seconds,' said Siobhan, who attended last week's launch of the new Irish Red Cross strategy, 'Act Today, Shape Tomorrow: Strategic Plan, 2019-2024'.

A teacher at St Peter's National School, Dromiskin, Siobhan had been running with the North Easter runners since her late teens.

'My whole family are athletes. My Mum and Dad are in the North East Runners, as are my brother and sister.'

Siobhan had travelled up to the half-marathon with a group from the club. 'There was great craic at the back of the bus on the way up,' she says. 'While I do remember everything leading up to the race, most of the race is completely blank.'

She recalls telling Cathriona, whom she was running with that she didn't feel great. 'So I stopped and walked, and then she stopped and walked with me - something I don't remember, but I was so lucky she did.'

Normally her parents would have been standing at the side of the course, waiting for her to cross the finishing line and she is glad that they weren't there that day to see her collapse.

Red Cross volunteers EMT (emergency medicine technical) Ciaran McDonnell, Karl Connors and Gary Ward, who were on duty at the busy event, administered life-saving first aid. Siobhan was then transferred to St James Hospital where she was placed in a medically induced coma for 24 hours.

'My family were prepared for the worst,' she recalls. 'It was recommended that my brother fly home from New Zealand - which he did.'

'The race was on a Sunday and I was put into an induced coma until the Monday. I don't remember anything really, probably until Thursday. I remember bits - I kept waking up and asking where I was and what had happened. My parents had to keep retelling me what had happened.'

Siobhan spent 13 days in hospital and was fitted with an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) as a preventative measure before going home.

Despite undergoing a battery of extensive tests, she says that doctors didn't discover any underlying medical conditions.

'Thank God, physically and mentally, I am fine,' she says. 'That's down to those guys getting to me so quickly. We go for runs up mountains, I go running on my own; it could have happened anywhere. Thank God the Irish Red Cross volunteers were there. I don't even know how you thank somebody for saving your life, but I thank them with everything I have.'

Siobhan also paid tribute to the members of the North East Runners who stayed with her after she collapsed and accompanied her to hospital.

'They have been so supportive and it's such a big part of my life that I hope to get back running at some stage,' she says.

'I'm working with a personal training and am gradually going back to the gym and have been cleared to run but will wait until it's a year past my cardiac arrest.'

Her brush with death has given her a new appreciation of the work of the Irish Red Cross.

'It's an amazing organisations and they have volunteers all over the world doing wonderful work.'

Siobhan was delighted to get the opportunity to personally thank the Dublin Red Cross volunteers who helped save her life.

And in a strange twist of fate, the defibrillator used on her actually belonged to the Dundalk Red Cross branch and had been on loan to Dublin.

The Argus