AN Ennis doctor who helped save the life of a hurling fan after he collapsed in a busy Dublin train station has modestly told us, “I think there was a lot of luck involved and I was in the right place at the right time.”
Dr Carly Lewis, who is originally from the Tulla Road in Ennis, sprang into action and performed CPR on the man who is in his 70s after discovering he had no pulse.
Fortunately he is now doing well, and following the experience Dr Lewis is appealing to the public to get Basic Life Support training saying, “The more people who are trained, the better the outcomes all round”.
Dr Lewis was in the Drumcondra train station with her sister having come from watching Clare play Kilkenny in the All Ireland semi-finals in Croke Park when the emergency situation unfolded.
She recalls they were about to get on the train when she noticed a commotion on the platform. “There was a man being helped onto the ground by a couple of people who had been passing by and I noticed his colour didn’t look good. I approached them and asked were they ok? I don’t even know if I introduced myself as a doctor, that part is a bit of a blur. He was placed on the ground and I just put two fingers on his neck to check for a carotid pulse and noticed that he had no pulse. Straight away I realised it was a very serious situation and at that point I just started chest compressions as I am trained to do.”
Dr Lewis, who was 23 weeks pregnant at the time, called for help as she continued doing chest compressions. “I was asking for anybody to assist me. I’m pregnant and so I was aware I could fatigue quite quickly so I was a bit uneasy but I continued to the best of my ability.”
Her appeal for support spread throughout the crowd in the train station but it was another three minutes before someone else came to her aid. Dr Louise Slevin from Kilkenny, who Dr Lewis describes as an “angel”, arrived to join her in helping the stricken man.
“When she approached she had a defibrillator. We did a quick pulse check and his pulse had returned which was marvellous, very lucky. We just stayed with him, monitoring to make sure he still had a pulse and was breathing.”
When the emergency services arrived the pair stepped back and the man was then taken to a Dublin hospital for treatment. Dr Lewis stayed in touch with one of the gardaí who was at the scene who kept her updated on the man’s condition before she eventually spoke with his family. “I spoke with his daughter and he has been discharged from hospital and is doing very well.”
The man she saved had also been at the same match with his daughter. Dr Lewis continues, “His family were very grateful. I think there was a lot of luck involved and I was in the right place at the right time.”
Remembering how she felt on the day she says, “When he was taken to hospital and I knew he was in good hands and I got the update that he was sitting up in bed talking, I was elated, absolutely ecstatic. Then I got very emotional afterwards thinking how the outcome could have been very different had we both not been in the same place at the same time. But I’m just very grateful that he is doing so well.”
The modest doctor explains she is speaking out about the experience not for praise or recognition, but instead to highlight the need for more people receive Basic Life Support training.
Dr Lewis says she was “surprised” at how few people in the train station knew how to do CPR and she is urging people to learn potentially life saving skills.
“It is so basic once you know how to do it. Anyone can do it. It is life saving and everyone should know. I think everybody should be trained in basic life support, from children all the way up to adults.
“I’m very lucky that I’m a doctor and have been trained and I’m trained in my place of work. But I believe that it should be free and accessible for everybody and I would urge the powers that be who are maybe reading this article and have the ability to provide for this, that training should be freely available in communities.”
She paid tribute to Dr Slevin and to the family of the man they helped save for supporting her in speaking about the experience. “It was a match none of us will ever forget,” she concludes.