Galway man finally meets the 'miracle' Donegal teenager whose life he saved
When Galway man Dave Sullivan was enjoying a relaxing holiday in Spain this time last year, the last thing he expected was to become involved in a dramatic life-saving rescue. Following a night out in Santa Ponsa, Mr Sullivan was ordering food in a chipper when he heard a loud bang. Immediately sensing that something was seriously wrong, he turned around to discover a man lying prone on the ground about six feet behind him. It transpired that Donegal teenager Oisin Meritt had fallen off a balcony at the infamous Irish hotspot, the Greenhills complex.
It was fortunate for Mr Merrit that it was Dave Sullivan who was on the scene so quickly. The Salthill native comes from a family of dedicated Red Cross volunteers; indeed his father has been a high profile member of the organisation in Galway for 40 years. Dave began first aid training as a teenager and came second in an All Ireland First Aid competition, while his sister and brother are multiple champions in this sphere.
He explains the dramatic scene which met him that night in Spain. "He just looked unconscious at first, then the blood started pouring out of the back of his head, within a minute there was blood everywhere. I could see he had a serious head injury. The situation started to get a bit out of control, there was a lot of people around and his friends were panicking. There was a group of girls screaming and I lost my temper with them, telling them to shut up. I learnt in the Red Cross that shock can kill, I was afraid he would subconsciously hear the screaming and this would lead him to panic and increase his heart rate further meaning the blood would pump out of him quicker.''
He says there was so much blood at the scene that he even surprised himself by remaining so calm. "The most important thing was to contain the bleeding, I used my top as a bandage and kept the pressure against his head. I could see his neck was not damaged so I was able to put him into the recovery position and ensure he did not swallow his tongue. He drifted back to consciousness at one stage and asked me if it was bad - I said no, he then asked if he was going to die - I just laughed because I did not want him to panic further. I was working on him for a good few minutes before the ambulance arrived. People said after, that it was a while coming, but everything seemed to happen quite fast."
Mr Merritt, who was known as an accompolished soccer player with Finn Harps, was taken to hospital where he remained in an induced coma for more than a month. At one stage his condition was so grave his parents were warned that he was not reacting to treatment and they were fearing the worst. However, following a remarkable turnaround, he was flown home to Ireland last July to begin his rehabilitation. He has spoken openly about his gratitude to the man who effectively saved his life.
Last week the pair arranged to meet in Donegal and Mr Sullivan says it was a lovely experience. "We are in contact all the time. When I met him, I felt like I always knew him, we really clicked. He talked about the aftermath of what happened. It has been really hard for him, his whole life has been turned upside down, he has been told he cannot play sport again, which is heartbreaking for him, but he is very hopeful about the future."
Dave Sullivan is undoubtably self-effacing about the significant part he played in saving Oisin Merrit's life. The Galway man has been busy carving out a career for himself as an actor and has recently moved to Dublin. He has filmed a TV pilot titled "Borderline" in Galway, and also has a show coming out in the winter on TG4 playing an American gangster 'Tough Tony Bastone'. Regarding his heroics, he modestly says, "If anybody was in the same position, they would have done the same."