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Medical student’s courageous efforts to save stranger on the street celebrated in BBC documentary and Evening Standard

Friday 3 July 2015

The quick-thinking actions taken by one of our students from the School of Medicine and Dentistry, John Reidy, helped to save a young mother found lying in a street after suffering a cardiac arrest. The incredible story was covered in an episode of BBC2’s An Hour To Save Your Life as well as the Evening Standard and Irish press.

On his way to a tutorial one morning, John Reidy came across a crowd around a woman collapsed on the footpath. He immediately began performing CPR chest compressions on the patient, Francita Farrell, for six minutes until a London Ambulance Service crew arrived, preventing her from suffering brain damage by keeping blood and oxygen flowing to her brain. The 32-year-old care worker required three shocks from a defibrillator to restart her heart. Medics from London’s Air Ambulance placed Ms Farrell in an induced coma at the roadside and ‘cooled’ her brain to 34 degrees to reduce the risk of damage, before she was taken by road ambulance to the Royal London Hospital. Her astonishing survival — only one in ten people survive cardiac arrests that happen outside hospital — would not have been possible without John’s intervention of immediate CPR. His actions have been commended by doctors at London’s Air Ambulance and Barts Health NHS Trust. John, who is 27, is a student within the School of Medicine and Dentistry and a dentistry graduate from Trinity College Dublin.

“I had never done CPR in a real-life situation before, but I guess I just switched into autopilot mode at that point and took over doing the chest compressions straight away. There was no time to waste, and all I could think about was that I had to focus 110 per cent on doing good CPR because this person’s life depended on it.” When the police and then London Ambulance Service arrived, followed by Dr Gareth Davies and paramedic Tony Montebello from London’s Air Ambulance, they took over the care of the young woman. Remarkably, and thanks to the quick and effective chain of care that she had received, Francita has no neurological damage from the period when her heart had stopped and was not pumping blood and oxygen to her brain.

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