Runner who suffered cardiac arrest says she owes her life to Irish Red Cross

Siobhán Jordan was 100m from finish line during race in Dublin when she collapsed

Siobhán Jordan (C) at the launch of the Irish Red Cross’s five-year strategy, at the charity’s HQ in Merrion Square, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Siobhán Jordan (C) at the launch of the Irish Red Cross’s five-year strategy, at the charity’s HQ in Merrion Square, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times


Siobhán Jordan was 100m from the finish line of Dublin’s Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon in August of last year when she suddenly collapsed. The 28-year-old fell near a group of Irish Red Cross volunteers who immediately rushed to her assistance, assessed the situation and began to administer CPR within 16 seconds of her fall.

“My family were prepared for the worst,” she recalled. “It was recommended that my brother fly home from New Zealand. I don’t have any underlining heart conditions and nothing has been found ever since and I may never have an answer to exactly what happened to me. But I do know that that day something went wrong and luckily for me I was in the right place at the right time.

“We go for runs up mountains, I go running on my own; it could have happened anywhere.”

The 28-year-old from Dundalk had suffered a cardiac arrest, and later learned that less than 10 per cent of people who do so outside hospital survive.

“Because these guys got to me and the oxygen they got into me and they persevered, because of their excellent training, I’m here today. Obviously my life has changed slightly but not drastically, and I’m so grateful to their services. If it helps even one more person to learn CPR then I will tell my story over and over again.”

Ms Jordan was speaking at the launch of the Irish Red Cross five-year strategy, which covers the charity’s work through its 3,200 volunteers across 86 branches in the country, as well as international assistance projects abroad.

Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe reiterated the Government’s commitment to supporting the charity’s work through volunteer activities across the country. He added that the Government’s annual grant to the charity had “a range of checks and balances” to ensure accountability and governance of spending.

“This is taxpayers’ money and we have to be able to stand over every penny that is sent from my own department,” said Mr Kehoe, adding that it was important that the general public maintain their trust and faith in publicly funded organisations like the Red Cross. Last year Mr Kehoe increased the charity’s annual grant by 10 per cent from €869,000 to €965,000 over a period of three years to help the organisation avoid financial crisis.

Charity criticised

In April 2019 the charity was criticised for its management of restricted funds, which include public donations given to humanitarian appeals, bequests left to charity and State funding which cannot be used on general costs. An audit of the society found that more than €123,000 was “retrospectively” deducted from four humanitarian appeal funds, as an administration charge.

Asked to comment on the management of restricted funds within the charity, Irish Red Cross chairman Pat Carey said the organisation had been “very measured” in its handling of finances and underlined that there was “never any suggestion any money was misspent”.

“There is a clear delineation between all of the restricted funds and we at the board meeting get a breakdown every month on these funds,” he told The Irish Times. Mr Carey added that the 7 per cent administration charge, which is deducted every six months, was necessary for the charity to survive.