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Antrim man saved by first-aider appeals for more people to be trained in vital CPR

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Heart patient Hugh McManus

Heart patient Hugh McManus

First responder Joe Burns who saved Hugh’s life

First responder Joe Burns who saved Hugh’s life

Hugh's wife Dorothy

Hugh's wife Dorothy

Heart patient Hugh McManus

A Co Antrim man who nearly died of a heart attack has said it is vital more people learn first aid.

Ahead of Restart A Heart Day tomorrow, Hugh McManus (62) from Cushendall spoke of how a first responder saved his life.

The wine and spirits wholesaler became unwell while playing at Cushendall Golf Club three years ago.

Although strong enough to drive home, his condition quickly deteriorated to the point his son Neil called for an ambulance.

"My eyes were closing and I remember thinking to myself: 'Don't close your eyes, that's not a good idea'. But that's the last thing I remember," Mr McManus recalled.

With the family home in a rural area, first responder Joe Burns was alerted before paramedics arrived.

Mr Burns said: "As soon as I came in I knew by the colour of Hugh. He was talking but he just didn't look right.

"I thought: 'I hope the ambulance isn't too far behind me'."

He got Mr McManus onto the ground, cutting his T-shirt to prepare to use a defibrillator. After administering two shocks, Mr McManus started to breathe.

Neil said: "Those few minutes seemed like an eternity but whenever he came back round he was kind of unaware of his surroundings.

"I think those couple of minutes had a bigger impact on my life than anything else."

Dorothy McManus said she still remembers the moment her husband came out of surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. She added: "We don't dwell on it but so many times you just think: 'My goodness, it could have been such a different outcome'.

"I mean, Joe Burns saved Hugh's life, he really did."

Mr McManus said taking up first aid was especially important in rural areas.

"It's difficult for an ambulance to come from Coleraine or Antrim in the short window that's required, so having a first responder is vital," he said. "If Joe Burns had been away, not that many people around here are available. I was just very lucky."

His family have since completed first aid courses and are helping the British Heart Foundation to promote awareness.

Restart A Heart Day is an annual event where the public is encouraged to learn the lifesaving skill.

The NI Ambulance Service said too many are still fearful of attempting first aid, quoting a recent survey that 33% of adults here would not try CPR if someone had a cardiac arrest.

"We are asking you to give learning CPR a go. You will never know when you might need to use it," NIAS said.

For further information, visit www.nias.hscni.net or call 028 9040 0999.

Belfast Telegraph