Limerick father-of-two Jack rallies support for life-saving cause close to heart

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

The children of Bulgaden and Martinstown and indeed the whole community is getting behind Jack O’Shea’s drive to get defibrillators for both schools and give first aid and CPR training

The children of Bulgaden and Martinstown and indeed the whole community is getting behind Jack O’Shea’s drive to get defibrillators for both schools and give first aid and CPR training

A LIMERICK father-of-two has put his heart and soul into ensuring two schools have life-saving equipment.

Jack O’Shea, Bulgaden, was listening to the radio on his way home from work in late 2017.

“There was a news story about a child in Dublin who collapsed, out of the blue, in the playground of a school with a cardiac arrest,” said Jack.

“Anyone who has kids think of children playing and having fun at school but few if any think of the possibility of a child having a cardiac arrest - it just doesn’t seem normal or right. Having two young kids myself it kind of stopped me in my tracks.

“I couldn't help being transported in some sense into the situation and realise the horror that this story could have been,” added Jack, who is married to Samantha and their children are Scott, aged 11, and Alexa, 8.

The child survived because a teacher recognised what was happening and acted quickly; they knew CPR and due to their proximity to a GAA club, they had quick access to a defibrillator which was used.

“The child is alive today because of this. I thought to myself, ‘What would happen if any of these three things were not a reality for that child?’.

“The answer is simple - there would be grieving parents, grieving siblings, a grieving school and community over an avoidable tragedy.

“I could not get this out of my head and I wanted to do something about it. We can’t change the world but we can contribute to trying to make it better and in this case, better just means giving someone a chance if they ever befall the horror that is a cardiac arrest,” said Jack.

He set-up a Facebook page and got a great response. In November, the Bulgaden Martinstown Schools Defibrillator Group was formed

“Our aims are to purchase and install a defibrillator in a self heated case for both schools - Bulgaden and Martinstown.

“The secondary aim is to train every child, teacher, parent and parishioners in the community in first aid/CPR and for those that would like to receive it - how to use a defibrillator. This will be done at no cost to them and so we have begun fundraising to cover the cost of purchase and installation of the equipment and training,” said Jack.

They started last weekend with bag packing in SuperValu in Kilmallock. A church gate collection takes place this Sunday, February 3, in Bulgaden and Martinstown.

On Friday, February 8, the committee are holding a bake sale in Martinstown NS. On Sunday, February 10, there is a coffee morning in Bulgaden Castle.

“We are having a launch night in Bulgaden Castle on Thursday, February 14, which is, of course, Valentine’s night. Our theme is Mind your Heart and we hope to have a good crowd there for the launch.

“The kids in our two primary schools are going to help us by creating heart decorations for the event. We have also secured the great Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh as our special guest so it promises to be a wonderful occasion. Entry to the launch is free.

“There will be sponsored door prizes and entry to the draw is also free. We will have a donation box available for anyone who might like to contribute,” said Jack.