Retained firefighter’s quick thinking and training helped save cardiac arrest man’s life

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Gairloch firefighter Michael MacLean reacted quickly when a man fell ill on stage at a ceilidh in Poolewe and was supported by an off-duty paramedic, a nurse and member of the public

Michael Mac Lean

A retained firefighter who recently helped save a man’s life after he suffered a cardiac arrest at ceilidh in Poolewe is encouraging the public to visit the station and learn the same potentially life-saving skills.

Michael MacLean, (47), has been a retained firefighter for over 25 years based in Gairloch and the CPR training he receives as part of his training with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) proved invaluable during an incident on 8 January this year.

He said: “We were at a ceilidh at Poolewe Community Hall a man I know very well suddenly said he was feeling unwell whilst on stage.

“I immediately rushed to help him and a trained paramedic and nurse who were at the event also helped out.

“I asked a member of the public to get the community defibrillator from the wall. The paramedic rushed to his car to get an airway management kit. Thanks to the defibrillator, the paramedic’s airway kit and the chest compressions I was doing the man started to come to. I felt there was someone up there watching over us to make sure all those people were there at the right time.”

Michael added: “Hospital staff commented that had we not done what we did he would definitely not have made it. I have known him for a long time so I was so glad to have been able to help.”

Michael admitted some people may not be fully aware of the many skills retained firefighters have, in addition to the obvious fire and search and rescue related training.

Late last year SFRS entered into a partnership with the British Heart Foundation which saw the charity donate CPR training kits to every fire station in Scotland.

The idea is to help build a nation of life-savers by offering communities the opportunity to teach themselves CPR by arranging to visit their local fire station and teach themselves CPR using the self-teach DVD and manikin.

The partnership is part of both organisations’ commitment to the Scottish Government’s Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest strategy, which aims to save 1000 lives by 2020.

Michael added: “We have a British Heart Foundation CPR manikin and training DVD here at the station and it is available to all members of the public who want to learn this life-saving skill.

“We would urge anyone in the local community to get in touch and arrange a mutually agreeable time to come in and use the self-teach DVD to learn about how they can become a life-saver.”

If you would like to learn CPR contact your local fire station to arrange a suitable time. Drill nights are often the best time and Gairloch’s drill night is a Thursday.