Thirty-eight year old Con O’Donovan from the village of Boherbue in north Cork is eagerly awaiting the impending arrival of his third child – and is fully aware that but for the swift intervention of the HSE’s emergency services and local GP Dr. Zelie Gaffney he might not have been in such a lucky position.

In April last, Con was feeling good and went for a game of soccer with his local team at Banteer’s indoor soccer pitch. “I had no symptoms whatsoever and felt fine, I hadn’t a pain nor an ache when about 10 minutes into the game apparently I suddenly collapsed. I was unconscious and have no memory of the whole event. Thanks to the swift actions of my fellow team mates and the staff at the Banteer facility, the emergency services were alerted and arrived within eight minutes. I was transported to Cork University Hospital and regained consciousness two weeks later on April 30th 2013.

“I had been diagnosed with an aortic valve stenosis in 1995, which was being closely monitored, but I had no symptoms prior to the events last April in Banteer.”

Advanced Paramedic Paul O’Driscoll is a staff member of the National Ambulance Service based in North Cork describes how he received a call to rush to Banteer indoor pitch to assist a person who collapsed. Paul was on the scene within min-utes. “On arrival in Ban-teer, I observed our Kan-turk paramedic ambulance crew and some local lay people performing CPR (cardiac pulmonary resuscitation) on a young man. The crew handed his care over to me and fol-lowing a quick assessment of the patient it was appa-rent that he was in cardiac arrest. One of the locals who had attended to assist with the CPR was Sheila Foley, a theatre nurse based at Mallow General Hospital.

“My paramedic colleagues Pat Larkin and Liam Healy continued CPR and defibrillated the patient while Sheila assisted me to perform an endotracheal intubation to secure the patient’s airway. Sheila also ventilated the patient while I obtained an intra-osseous access route (via the patient’s shin bone) in order to administer appropriate medication.

“Paramedic Paddy Moore arrived on the scene from Millstreet, as did Dr. Zelie Gaffney, a GP based in Newmarket. Dr. Gaffney immediately reviewed the patient’s condition while Paddy took on the role of documenting the resuscitation and cross-checking the medication. We performed advanced life support resuscitation for 35 minutes before there was a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) during which the patient was defibrillated nine times and administered cardiac drugs. We also commenced the patient on post cardiac arrest active cooling, a technique designed to improve the neurological outcome after cardiac arr-est, before we transferred him to Cork University Hospital.

“During the transfer to CUH, Mr. O’Donovan was ventilated and attached to a cardiac monitor closely observed by Liam Healy and myself. Paddy Moore also travelled with us in case Mr. O’Donovan sustained another cardiac arrest which would have enabled us to recommence advanced life support resuscitation.”


While all of this is a day’s work for the emergency services, the staff are always aware of the patient’s vulnerability and do everything in their power to ensure a positive outcome as was the case for Con. Paul continued to keep a watch on Con’s condition while he remained in the intensive care unit at CUH as he was very aware that this was a man with a young family. Although Con did go through a very slow and difficult recovery period he pulled through in the end. He was discharged from hospital in May in order to recuperate so that he could have an operation to repair the damage caused to his heart.

Dr Cathal O’Donnell, Medical Director, National Ambulance Service said “this is a good example of all the links in the chain of survival working to save a life – local people in the community knowing how to do CPR, rapid response from the National Ambulance Service, and high quality medical care provided by advanced paramedics, paramedics and Dr Gaffney.”

Con went for his operation two weeks ago and is recovering well and now looking forward to the new arrival. Con says he “will remain forever grateful to the interventions of all those on the evening in question.  I am fully aware of the enormous efforts put in by all in attendance par-ticularly Paul O’Driscoll, Pat Larkin, Liam Healy, Paddy Moore, Kevin Roche, Sheila Foley and Dr Gaffney and for the top class, professional, medical care and treatment that they were able to give me on the day. The ambulance base in North Cork is a vital service to the com-munity and saved my life.”