My motivation for working in the Irish Heart Foundation is very personal. Heart disease and stroke has had a significant effect on my family. I feel strongly that everyone should get the opportunity to learn CPR; it’s a life skill like riding a bike.
From a young age I’ve been interested in health, as a child I watched medical shows and was fascinated by the medical profession. Originally my career was in the world of finance, but I took a leap and made the move into youth health education and I haven’t looked back since. Now I manage the Irish Heart Foundation’s Children and Young Peoples programmes, and to date our CPR 4 Schools programme has provided free CPR training to 405 of the 715 secondary schools in Ireland.
Every day, 13 people in Ireland die from a cardiac arrest and schools are an ideal setting to educate young people in CPR and reduce these incidences of death. CPR is a life skill that everyone needs to know, it’s a skill that anyone can learn. Young people have an incredible gift: once you teach them CPR, they’re not afraid. We are creating the future generation of lifesavers, more and more we are seeing young people train as facilitators wishing to train their peers and community.
Cardiac arrest can happen at any place and any time, you never know when you might need to use this life saving skill. Last summer a group of secondary school students went to Zambia and taught the local children and staff CPR. Closer the home in the west of Ireland , one of the local children – a 14 year old – was in the car with his Dad, when he saw a man having a cardiac arrest. He asked his Dad to stop the car, called emergency services and started CPR. He had the skills and confidence to do this because he learned CPR in school. And because of this, he saved a man’s life. This really shows the value of the work we do, sometimes it’s easy to forget the significance of our work.