Scare in the school yard prompts call for defibrillators
A Rush school principal is fronting a national campaign to have a defibrillator installed in every school in Ireland following a dramatic incident at the school where a nine-year-old boy went into cardiac arrest and collapsed.
Just a few short weeks after that terrifying incident, the nine-year-old boy is back home and well thanks to the quick actions of the school principal, vice-principal and a recently graduated teacher who had the most dramatic first day on yard duty she could possibly have imagined.
Gaelscoil Ros Eo principal, Tim Ó Tuachaigh recalled the dramatic yard break saying he was in the staff room having a cup of tea when he was alerted to a serious incident in the yard. When he went outside, the kids had stooped playing and a teacher on her very first day of yard duty was helping a boy on the ground that was obviously in some trouble.
Tim recalled: 'It was obvious straight away that this wasn't a regular fall or accident that might happen in any school yard at lunchtime. You could see he was totally unconscious and unresponsive. He was breathing but it was quite ragged.'
Immediately, Tim asked the teacher on yard duty to phone 999 while he and his vice-principal, Síle Ní Rabhartaigh began administering CPR. Quickly, the principal realised there was a defibrillator at St Maur's GAA Club, close to where the school is currently located and he sent the newly-qualified teacher, Muinteoir Ella to run and get it.
In the meantime, a 999 responder coached the principal and deputy principal through the CPR process until they were able to apply the defibrillator before a fire brigade arrived with paramedics after about 25 minutes.
The school principal said that paramedics later told him that if CPR and the defibrillator had not been applied at the incident, it would have been a 'very different result'.
The boy left hospital last Monday and is recovering well at home but the incident has lit a fire in the school principal who is now determined that every school in Ireland should have a defibrillator.
He is now fronting a national campaign to make that happen which has already reached the floor of the Seanad with Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee raising the issue in the Seanad chamber, last week.
Senator Clifford Lee said: 'This shocking and traumatic incident has highlighted a glaring gap that must be addressed. The Department of Education must explore the possibility of introducing them in schools.'
Mr ó Tuachaign said he has been disappointed by the Department of Education's response so far. He said the Department has 'passed the buck' to the Department of Health and are shirking their responsibilities.
He said to fit every school in Ireland with a defibrillator would cost less than €8 million which he said 'is not a great deal of money in the grand scheme of things'.
The school principal has rejected the title of 'hero' for his role in the incident at the school and said that it was a 'team effort' in the day that involved about five members of staff directly but needed the whole school community's co-operation in dealing with it effectively.
The school was rewarded for its effective action on the day with the presentation of defibrillator last Thursday, donated to the school by the Ciaran Carr foundation and the school intends to add a second portable defibrillator to take with it on school trips.