s the Greystones First Responders celebrate their 10th year, we talk to one of its founding members – the mighty Margaret Duggan.
According to the Irish Heart Foundation, around 14 people die every day in Ireland as a result of sudden cardiac arrest. And the IHF are quick to point out that many of these lives could be saved if more people knew CPR – or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to give this life-saving procedure its full name.
For Greystones resident Margaret Duggan, that simple lesson was learnt hard and fast 10 years ago when, on a shopping trip to the newly-opened Dundrum Shopping Centre, a man collapsed in front of her, clutching his heart. No one there knew what to do. The shopping centre was so new, it hadn’t yet had any defibrillators installed. Tragically, he didn’t make it.
“That was a lightbulb moment for me,” says Margaret now, sitting in her Kindlestown Park home. “I had such a feeling of helplessness, as this elderly man that I now know had a cardiac arrest, was just lying in front of me, dying. I just felt so empty, so helpless when I got home.”
It was then that the lightbulb inside Margaret’s head came on.
“It just clicked – I’m going to learn how to do CPR,” she explains, “and I’m going to learn how to use a defibrillator. At least then I’ll have some chance of helping someone, at least then I can try and save someone who’s dying right there in front of me.
I just never wanted to walk away from a situation like that completely defeated.”
Quite by chance, the very next day, Margaret heard local politician George Jones on the radio, publicising the fact that there was a meeting the following week in the hope of starting up a First Responders group in Greystones.
Volunteer groups trained in CPR and defibrillation, Responders literally offer a lifeline to their those in their communities.
“I went to that first meeting ten years ago to form the Greystones First Responders,” smiles Margaret, “and I’m so, so glad I did.”
As as quite a few people in Greystones, of course – some who may not still be with us if it weren’t for people like Margaret and the rest of the First Responders.