St John member saves uncle’s life

“Being a member of St John Ambulance means learning new skills which could leave a lasting impact on someone’s life.”

These are Darragh Lawlor’s words; the Pavilions Shopping Centre employee who recently saved his uncle’s life. Darragh, 24, volunteers with St John Ambulance Swords as well as working in the shopping centre as a security guard and first aider.

Two weeks ago, Darragh was called to assist a man in a shop on the main street in Swords. Darragh’s colleague witnessed a customer collapse and go into cardiac arrest. CPR was started immediately.

His training meant that Darragh knew how to respond – rapidly, calmly, and with an AED in hand.

It was only after an initial cycle of CPR (roughly two minutes) that Darragh recognised the patient. It was his uncle, Paddy. Darragh had taken part in a CPR/AED skill refresher the week before at his local St John Ambulance division, and was able to focus on the job at hand without becoming distressed.

“I did get a rush of adrenaline when I realised it was my uncle, but that was a few minutes after I had started so anyone else would have gotten the same treatment.”

Dublin Fire Brigade Paramedics arrived on scene and took over patient care. Resuscitation continued while travelling to Beaumont Hospital Emergency Department. Paddy was successfully resuscitated, and is now recuperating at home.

This outcome illustrates the need for rapid, skilled intervention when cariac arrest occurs.

“It is an indescribable feeling to save a life. Not all days will involve such heroic efforts, but it was fantastic to be able to help a person in medical difficulty. I’ve always had an interest in first aid, but other divisions were too far away. When St John Ambulance started a division in Swords, I was delighted.”

St John Ambulance not only trains its members in the use of such lifesaving equipment, but also runs open first aid courses. On these courses, everyone can learn how to help people in distress, the ill and injured.

If you would like to support our work, learn first aid, or find out more about joining, please visit