A Limerick woman has been labelled a hero in New Zealand after saving a man’s life ahead of Ireland’s first Test match against the All Blacks.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Sara Hartigan said she was at a pre-match event when she heard a commotion outside.
A man had suffered a heart attack while parking his car, and was slumped at the steering wheel with the engine still running.
When she saw what had happened Sarah immediately reacted and began performing CPR.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast from New Zealand, she said the experience highlights the importance of learning basic CPR.
“The last week has been pretty overwhelming because I’m not one to be standing up going, oh look at me – I wouldn’t be looking to get any credit for this or anything,” she said.
“The most important thing is bringing awareness to how important this is. Even the basics can save a life. You don’t need to know a whole amount about CPR to help.
“I know the percentage of people surviving outside a hospital is pretty low, but this just proves that it can be done. That basic compressions on a chest can get somebody back to get them to the right place where they can be looked after.
“So, it’s just the best feeling and I have friends for life now so it is amazing.”
The man Sara saved was 56-year-old Dean Herewini from Waikato.
His brother told The New Zealand Herald that Dean doesn’t remember the incident – which saw him clipping one car and crashing into five others as he attempted to park.
He said the family is “very lucky that someone like that just jumped into it and did what she did”.
"You read about these things. You see them on TV but when you experience it first-hand it's incredible,” he said. “We're so humble and grateful.”
Sarah said instinct took over when she saw what had happened.
“I went outside and I could see someone slumped in the car,” she said. “His daughter was there and she was upset. People were trying to call an ambulance, so I just went over to help.
“Nobody was really going into the car. Obviously, anybody that was on the scene was pretty shocked at the time.
“So, I just reacted. I just jumped in and started to do compressions. I tried to see could we get him out of the car but the way the car was set we really couldn’t manage that so yeah, I just got the seat back as best we could and just gave the compressions.”
“He regained consciousness pretty fast to be honest; it was probably about a minute or two – I was pretty tired after it. There was no kiss of life; there was just compressions on his chest.”
She said he first reaction was “I need to do something because nobody seemed to be doing anything for him”.
“Again, you don’t know until you are in that situation how anybody is going to react,” she said. “It was just one of those, whether it was going to work or not, someone had to try.”
Mr Herewini is still in Auckland Hospital where he is being treated for an erratic heart rate,
Doctors estimate his heart stopped for an entire minute during the ordeal.
You can listen back here:
Main image shows the Ireland team lining up as the All Blacks perform the haka at Eden Park in Auckland, 02-07-2022. Image: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile