At Ennis Circuit Court today (Wednesday), a student nurse got visibly upset in the witness box, as she alleged how a HSE paramedic rendered her unconscious during an evening first aid class at the Vocational Education Centre in Scariff in March 2013.
Mary Nihill, a fourth year nursing student and a mother of one, told the court that after the incident “I was in shock. I thought I was in safe hands with a professional paramedic. He tried to knock me out – he did knock me out”.
In the case, Andrew Long (35) of Carraig Dubh, Tobertaosceain, Ennis has pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Mary Nihill and Elise McMahon – who was seven months pregnant at the time – in March 2013.
In the case, mature student, Ms Nihill said she was taking an evening occupational first aid course that was been given by Mr Long.
She said that after the class, Mr Long called her out to a corridor where he asked her general questions about what she had learned in the course and that he wanted to perform a manoeuvre on her.
She said, “I got very nervous when he said that he didn’t practice the manoeuvre in his profession. He called it ‘Prodrum’ and ‘we don’t practice this’. I thought ‘why would he do that to me?’.
Ms Nihill said she was sitting down and that from behind Mr Long placed his left arm around her neck and applied force with his another arm.
She said, “I was choking and slipping on the chair and telling him to stop. I wanted to go out, but I couldn’t escape. At no time did I consent to him putting his hands around my neck.”
Ms Nihill said that Mr Long then sat in front of her and placed his arms on her knees.
Ms Nihill said that Mr Long went behind her again and performed the same manoeuvre “after me telling him, ‘no, leave me alone’.
The Tulla woman lost consciousness due to the pressure on her airways during the second manoeuvre.
She said, “I don’t know how long I was out for, but when I came to, he was sitting in front of me with his two hands on my knees.”
Ms Nihill said that she was drooling from the mouth. She said that after regaining consciousness “I felt faint. I didn’t know what do and I ran out the door. My legs were like jelly”.
On behalf of Mr Long, defence counsel, Bernard Madden SC said that Mr Long says that what Ms Nihill has described did not happen. He said, “He [Mr Long] didn’t put his arm around your neck in the way you have said.”
Elise McMahon also attended the course the same night and was seven months pregnant at the time. The mother of three also stated that Mr Long called her out to the corridor that night after the class was over.
Ms McMahon said that Mr Long told her that he wanted to carry out the Prodrum manoeuvre.
She said, “I was very reluctant as I was seven months pregnant at the time and I was afraid that it might harm me or my baby but very reluctantly, I said ‘yes’ even though I felt uncomfortable doing it.”
She added, “He told me I was safe as he was a paramedic.”
Ms McMahon said that Mr Long put his arm wrapped around her neck from behind. She said, “My airwaves were cut off. I was conscious, but literally I couldn’t talk. I had no voice. It was the weirdest feeling. It scared me. The only way to stop was to push my body forward.”
Counsel for Mr Long, Mr Madden said that what Mr Long says happened was that he was instructing her in relation to a breathing technique and that she had breathe 10 times in a particular way. Mr Madden said that Mr Long said that the manoeuvre around the Prodrum didn’t happen.
Counsel for the State, Philip Rahn BL told the jury that evidence will be heard that the manoeuvre carried out by Mr Long has nothing to do with first aid.
The trial continues this Thursday.