Free CPR training to be offered to 100,000 people in new programme

People will learn how to recognise cardiac arrest and strokes, and use defibrillator

More than 100,000 people across Ireland are to be trained to treat heart attack victims under a new community training programme.

The programme, which will provide people with one hour of free training in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), was announced on Wednesday by Aoife McGivney, the Mater Hospital nurse whose prompt intervention is credited with saving the life of a bus driver who was suffering a cardiac emergency earlier this month.

Hands for Life training courses will take place in local community centres, clubs and libraries across Ireland over the next two years. The free programme will train people to recognise heart attacks and strokes, how to perform compressions and use a defibrillator, and how to respond to a choking emergency.

Recalling the event that has thrust her into the limelight, Ms McGivney said “the day started out like any other for me, getting on the bus to work in the morning. But before long, I found myself on the footpath on O’Connell Street performing CPR on the bus driver. Thankfully, he survived and nobody was hurt.


“I was lucky enough to know what to do in the situation and my training kicked in instinctively. I know first-hand how important it is to know CPR and that it can be the difference between life and death.”

Ms McGivney said she hoped others would be inspired by her story to learn CPR through the Irish Heart Foundation's (IHF) courses, which are supported by healthcare multinational Abbott, and ESB Networks.

IHF chief executive Tim Collins said the chance of a person surviving a heart attack can be doubled or even tripled where someone nearby knows CPR and can start performing compressions quickly.

Every day in Ireland, 13 people die from a cardiac arrest, with 70 per cent of cases happening at home “in front of a loved one”, he pointed out.

CPR is an emergency procedure that combines chest compressions often with artificial ventilation in an effort to manually preserve brain function until further measures can be taken to restore blood circulation and breathing where a person is having a heart attack.


Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.