Heroic Donegal band rushed to save bride's uncle at wedding reception

Musicians gave CPR after uncle collapsed with a heart attack

Sue Doherty

Reporter:

Sue Doherty

Email:

sue.doherty@donegaldemocrat.com

BAND AID!

The Rockhill Ramblers: Patrick Meehan, Darren Meehan, Declan Meehan, Matthew Diver and Pauric Meehan

A wedding celebration that almost turned into a tragedy was saved by the quick actions of musicians playing at the reception.

Two members of the Rockhill Ramblers came to the rescue of the uncle's bride, Alan Johnston of Lisminton, Ballintra, who collapsed with a heart attack on the dance floor at the Sandhouse Hotel in Rossnowlagh last Friday night.

Their quick actions, and the availability of a defibrillator, saved his life.

The potential disaster was averted at the wedding reception of Siofra Johnston and Ben Relton.

Siofra and Ben cutting their wedding cake, with Alan in the background.

Darren Meehan, a member of the Rockhill Ramblers, told the Democrat how the drama unfolded.

"Everybody was dancing away and the next thing we saw Alan drop to the floor. We immediately knew there was something wrong and stopped playing.

"Like lightning, Matthew and Patrick ran to him and started performing CPR. They shouted for me to get the defibrillator but a man behind the bar was already getting it.

"Matthew and Patrick performed CPR and used the defibrillator for about 10 mins. Alan was able to speak again by the time the ambulance arrived.

"Obviously we're absolutely delighted that the quick actions of the two boys helped so much. Needless to say, we're very proud of them,” he said.

Darren also paid tribute to 70-year-old Alan Johnston's indomitable spirit, "As he was being taken to the ambulance, Alan told us, 'Make sure and play on, boys, I might be back!'"

A few words from the father of the bride

The bride's grateful father Trevor Johnston, who is from Ballintra and now lives in Irvinestown, said the family are truly blessed. "Alan's was a very severe cardiac arrest and, if there was no defibrillator on hand, Alan would not have survived.

“What other band features a paramedic (Matthew Diver) and a nurse (Patrick Meehan) in its numbers? They both responded with an outstanding level of professionalism."

Trevor also thanked all those who helped out during the crisis.

"There were so many good people who made such a massive contribution to what was a life-saving situation.

"Matthew and Patrick were ably assisted by our nieces Linda Cannard (née Brogan), who is a senior nurse in Letterkenny, and Roisin Mc Grory, who is a student nurse in London.”

The family is also deeply grateful to Neilis McInaw "who initially took responsibility when Alan slumped to the floor" and Ryan Hoey of The Sandhouse "who delivered the defibrilator in record time" as well as Karen Farry "whose professionalism and control of the proceedings was a major factor".

Thanking the emergency services for their rapid response, Trevor continued, "One must also mention that paramedics Ken Vaughan and Frankie O’Donnell were on the scene quickly to help out even though they were not on call. They are two wonderful men. We have great health professionals in County Donegal."

Like Darren, Trevor was impressed by Alan's fighting spirit. "One of the first things he said was , 'I'm supposed to be going to Dowra mart tomorrow!'

"Alan apologised for interrupting the reception. It was his wish that we enjoy the rest of the night and we did. You could not move on the dance floor and I think that was a tremendous gesture of support not only for Siofra and Ben, but for Alan, and his family and friends as well."