West Cork woman is set to run Dublin Marathon to raise awareness of CPR

This weekend, Cork woman Anne Riordan will run the Dublin Marathon to raise funds and awareness of the Irish Heart Foundation’s free CPR training courses, writes LIZ O’BRIEN
West Cork woman is set to run Dublin Marathon to raise awareness of CPR
Anne Riordan of the Irish Heart Foundation will run the Dublin Mrathon this weekend.

WHILE many people are afraid of performing CPR, West Cork native Anne Riordan says that even attempting what is more properly known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation can save someone’s life.

Anne is the Regional Manager for the Irish Heart Foundation in Munster — she represents the region and looks after all its fundraising activities.

“Sometimes, we get that feedback, people wouldn’t know what to do or they would be afraid they would hurt the person by giving them compressions.

“If you don’t try to help, the person may not survive. I have met so many people that were saved by bystander CPR, their lives really matter, we all need to be able to act.”

Anne always reminds people that the first thing they should do is call the emergency services. “From there they will be guided by an experienced healthcare professional — they will tell them what to do, even if they are unsure.

“When it comes to doing compressions, the better the quality the greater chance you will be giving the person that you are trying to save.”

Anne will run in the Dublin Marathon this weekend, to raise money for the Irish Heart Foundation but also awareness for the work that it does and to encourage people to sign up for free CPR courses nationwide.

““I always have to find new ways to engage people and get them interested in supporting us,” she said.

“Doing a personal fundraising activity and raising money for the foundation is hopefully leading by example and might encourage more people to give it a go.

“I am trying to get more people signed up for our free Hands for Life CPR training programme — if they don’t want to make a donation, just trying to encourage people to be active in some way.”

The Hands for Life initiative Anne wants people to sign up to is free community CPR training in communities across Ireland for adults aged 18 up.

She was working in advertising for RTÉ and while in Dublin she volunteered with the Special Olympics World Games in 2003. She got more out of it than she put in.

“I was bitten by the bug and decided I wanted to use my skills in what would be a more meaningful way for me — to help make a difference through charitable work and advocacy.

“When Paddy O’Brien retired in 2005 and the position was advertised, I knew it was a challenge I would relish.

“I had always admired Paddy’s energy and work commitment and wanted to build on the work he had done. Also, I don’t know any family that isn’t affected by heart disease and stroke — knowing the work the foundation does can make a difference to so many people made it a most appealing employer.”

Originally from Bandon, Co Cork, Anne lived for a few years in Dublin and now she resides in Glin in West Limerick with her husband and four-year-old daughter.

For weeks now, Anne has been on a training plan in the lead up to the Dublin Marathon.

“Since I started working in the Irish Heart Foundation, I have come to understand how important it is to stay active for so many reasons, not just your heart health.

“Getting regular active can benefit your physical health as well as your mental health, particularly as you get older.

“I have always enjoyed being active but by no means competitively, and I wouldn’t have thought even a year ago I would have the endurance for this.

“I have got great encouragement from my friends and family and have never felt fitter or healthier than I do now.

“I’m following Hal Higdon’s training plan, which is freely available online — it involves running four days a week, cross training one other day and then two rest days.”

Her milage alternates; some days she’d run five -miles, other days it’s 10, one day 20, and then the training tapers down for the last three weeks before the marathon.

“I normally walked or swam the other days. It’s a big time commitment and has meant a few early starts.

“It also curtailed any socialising at the weekend, but the satisfaction from getting this far has definitely been worth all the sacrifices.

“I have been really looking after myself, this is a bucket list run, I’m nearly 50 so plenty of stretching and exercising, incorporating all the pilates, yoga and everything else I have learnt over the years.

“My foam roller is becoming my best friend — with a weekly rub down from an excellent sports massage therapist and plenty of Epsom salt baths, I’m holding my own!

“Having survived the 20-mile training run without any major discomfort, I now believe I can do the full distance. I am so excited about it and can’t wait for October 27!”

The Irish Heart Foundation programme, supported by Abbott and ESB Networks, has lots of upcoming courses around the country — details are at irishheart.ie where donations can also be made.


Diarmuid O’ Connell suddenly fell to the ground and suffered cardiac arrest while playing a GAA match in Castlemagner.

If it weren’t for fellow players performing CPR on him and using a defibrillator to restart his heart, he wouldn’t be alive today.

Ten years on, he’s married to Niamh; they have a baby boy Archie, who is 18 months old, and Diarmuid’s thankful he’s here to tell the tale.

“I was 23 at the time and I was playing a football game in Castlemagner, just outside Mallow.

“It was just after half time and I just collapsed, there was no reason for collapsing.

“I didnt feel anything, I hadn’t felt light-headed or sick, I didn’t get a belt or anything.

“One of the guys playing with me on the day came over, he thought I’d been hit by the ball, but then he realised it was a lot more serious — he could see my lips and things were turning blue and that I wasn’t breathing properly.

“He had actually done a training course through his school in CPR — he was a teacher — he had done that only a couple of months previous and he recognised I was in need of CPR.” Luckily, two others on Diarmuid’s team also knew CPR but nobody on the opposing side did.

There was also a defibrillator on site; a rarity in those days, he said.

The defibrillator was used to shock Diarmuid’s heart and CPR continued for 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived.

“For every minute that passes you have 10 per cent less chance of survival so I was after losing 30 per cent chance of survival by the time I’d been shocked.

“The shock will bring your heart back into rhythm but it’s beginning the CPR or knowing what to do, that’s the main thing.

“I was exceptionally lucky.” There are plenty of people just like Diarmuid, who are alive today because someone was able to give them lifesaving CPR when they needed it.

“That is why doing some training, even if it is only the hour-long free CPR training we are offering through our Hands For Life programme, can make a difference,” Anne said.

See https://irishheart.ie/courses/hands-for-life/

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