A family carer who completed a training course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR ) saved her husband's life a month later when he suffered a major heart attack at their home in Galway.
The woman contacted the organisers of the Heartsaver CPR AED training initiative for family carers after the event to thank them for providing her with the necessary lifesaving skills.
She stated that her husband had been discharged from hospital after having experienced a STEMI, a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart's major arteries, that supplies oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle, is blocked. This requires immediate medical attention.
The carer said that if she had not attended the course she would have disregarded his symptoms, probably passing them off as indigestion, and would have gone back to sleep. This according to her husband's consultant would have had fatal consequences for her spouse.
Outlining the story, Michelle Harrison, the project lead and the co-ordinator of the carers' department of Community Healthcare West, said she knows from feedback she has received from participants on the CPR AED training course, which is funded by the HSE Carers Department and delivered in partnership with the local heart and stroke charity Croí, that it has saved lives.
The training course, which is open to family carers, is being delivered in Galway since 2011 and was the overall winner in the Innovative Project Category at the inaugural HSE Community Healthcare West Staff Recognition Awards. The local health authority is the only HSE area providing this life-saving training to family carers in Ireland.
The courses are designed to teach family carers about CPR and the relief of foreign-body airway obstruction in adults, children and infants, together with the use of automated external defibrillation (AED ). These are lightweight, portable devices which deliver an electric shock through the chest to the heart which can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia ) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arres.
Successful participants receive a certificate in adult, child and infant CPR and AED, with management of choking, which is certified by the American Heart Association.
Ms Harrison said that when a person collapses with sudden cardiac arrest, every second is vital. "Performing CPR and using a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death in many cases. For every minute a person is collapsed without receiving CPR or defibrillation, the person's chance of survival is reduced by up to 10 per cent per minute. After five minutes, the person's chance of survival is reduced by up to 50 per cent.
"The Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest register in Ireland found that two-thirds of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurred at home in Ireland in 2017 and three-quarters of incidents occurred in a private setting (ie, home, farm, or residential institution ). Research has shown that CPR and AED can double or triple a victim's chance of survival and that people who have completed a CPR AED course are 10 times more likely to respond in such an emergency."
She outlined that the role of lay persons in the internationally recognised chain of survival is well acknowledged, and includes, early recognition, immediate effective CPR, and rapid defibrillation.
"It takes a whole system to save a life, and this training initiative spearheaded by the HSE Carers Department and Croí, is integral to ensuring that family carers are key contributors to this whole system approach to save a life. In the past seven year period, we have delivered a total of 90 certified courses to nearly 1,000 family carers in Galway."
The HSE Carers Department, Community Healthcare West is currently accepting applications from family carers in Galway for this training. Further Heartsaver CPR AED courses will be delivered this year free to family carers in partnership with Croí. To find out more or to request an application form contact the HSE Carers Department at (091 ) 546133.