Home  Irish Red Cross  A story of volunteer heroism

The following is just one story of volunteer heroism, from volunteers in the Malahide-Balbriggan branch, whose intervention at the scene of a cardiac arrest proved crucial. 

It was a bright, clear, mild October day and the Irish Kennel Club International Dog Show was underway in Cloghran, north county Dublin. Irish Red Cross volunteers Brian Deegan, Joe Millar and John Cassidy were all on duty and Brian and Joe decided to go for a walk around to make sure everything was alright, rather than “sit in a room and wait for something to happen,” as Brian put it. While on the stroll, two women came up the stairs saying someone had collapsed in the car park.

The three volunteers took action immediately. Joe brought the ambulance over to the scene and Brian made a quick phone call to John saying he suspected they had a cardiac arrest case on their hands.

When the volunteers got to the patient, there were members of the public performing CPR, which is a very good thing - “the quicker CPR is started, the better,” explains Brian. Then Joe, Brian and John stepped in and just did, as Brian puts it simply “what we were trained to do.”

Brian took over CPR on the patient, and one shock of the defibrillator was administered.

By the time the fire brigade arrived, the patient was still unconscious, but there had been a return of spontaneous circulation. The fire brigade took over and an ambulance came and brought the patient to Beaumont Hospital. Some time later the Irish Red Cross volunteers were informed the patient was stable.

The three volunteers worked extremely well as a team. Brian says “instinct kicks in” and that he and John are able to work together without Brian saying too much; “if I need something John has it ready without me having to ask for it - and vice versa.” He attributes the success of the intervention to the “early access, early CPR, early AED, and then the paramedics.”

“It just all fell into place,” says Joe, “everything clicks in.”

When put to the volunteers that their work must be very demanding, Joe says he is “more aware of driving” when he’s in the ambulance. “It is stressful,” he remarks, “particularly if it’s a long run.”

Brian notes however that he’s “doing it too long to get stressed.”


The guys relay many stories from over the years. It’s obvious they expect nothing in return for carrying out duties every weekend, and for being at the ready for incidents just like this one, but they say they’re rewarded by the satisfaction they get from helping people and the friends they make along the way.