Sports stars say it takes 30 minutes to learn how to save a life

BHF NI and sporting talent urge local people to learn cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and stem needless loss of life ~

Some of Northern Ireland’s top sporting talent is backing British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland’s (BHF NI) campaign to train more communities in CPR and defibrillator awareness and save hundreds of lives each year.

With around 1,400 out of hospital cardiac arrests in Northern Ireland every year, but less than one in ten people surviving, the heart charity is calling on post primary schools, community groups and sports clubs to get trained in the lifesaving skills to improve survival rates.

BHF NI said if survival rates here were boosted to match those seen in parts of Norway, where CPR is taught in schools and up to one in four people survive, hundreds of additional lives could be saved each year.

The charity’s bid to improve cardiac arrest survival was launched today (Wednesday 24 February) at the House of Sport. BHF NI Area Development Manager Stephanie Leckey used the Call, Push Rescue kit to provide a 30 minute CPR group demonstration to players including:

  • Cushendall and Antrim hurling star Neil McManus who is preparing to play in the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final with his club Ruairí Óg on St Patrick’s Day. Neil’s father Hugh McManus suffered a cardiac arrest in September 2015 at his home in Cushendall and was saved through the quick action of the community first responder scheme in his area who quickly performed CPR and defibrillation and saved his life.
  • Robin McCready who suffered a cardiac arrest eight years ago in Bangor Leisure Centre getting ready to start a Taekwondo class. He was saved through the quick actions of two leisure centre staff members who kept his heart beating through CPR and then defibrillated him.
  • Caroline O’Hanlon – Northern Ireland Netball captain and Armagh Ladies Gaelic Football captain and a doctor by profession
  • Aisling Reilly – Irish Senior Singles Handball champion
  • David Healy – Linfield manager

Neil McManus (27) said he knows only too well how vital CPR and defibrillation is when someone suffers a cardiac arrest after his own father Hugh’s (60) life was saved in September last year.

Neil McManus said:

“Last September my father felt ill when he was out golfing. He came back to our home in Cushendall and straight away I knew something was wrong so called an ambulance. While waiting for the ambulance a volunteer with the local community first responder scheme arrived and recognised immediately my father was about to have a cardiac arrest.

“He was able to perform CPR and defibrillation before my father was brought to hospital in the ambulance. I have no doubt that without his quick actions my father’s life would not have been saved and he wouldn’t be with me today preparing for the All-Ireland Hurling Final. The volunteer community first responder was trained through the BHF NI’s Heartstart course provided by staff in the Northern Trust and we as a family have been so lucky to benefit from that vital training.

“We know how frightening it is when this happens to your own family but want to encourage other people to get trained in CPR and defibrillation and help save lives. Without it things could have been so different for us and that’s why we are backing BHF NI’s campaign.”

Robin McCready said:

“When I had a cardiac arrest eight years ago I never expected it to happen to me. I was fit and healthy and as well as taekwondo I also played hockey. I collapsed in Bangor Leisure Centre and it was only through the quick actions of the people there who performed CPR and defibrillation that I am here today.

“I know how vitally important it is to know CPR and how to use a defibrillator. It is a vital life skill everyone should have because you might just need it to save a life.”

David Healy said:

“I am delighted to support BHF NI in calling for more people to be trained in CPR and defibrillation. I have long been a great supporter of the charity and back in 2009 I helped launch their new resource pack for schools to learn emergency life support skills.

“As a sportsman and now manager at Linfield Football Club I know how vitally important it is for sports clubs, community groups and schools to know this amazing skill. It could really be the difference between life and death.

“I know how important it is to keep yourself fit and healthy but everyone will know that cardiac arrests can happen to people who are the peak of their fitness like my fellow football player Fabrice Muamba. That is why it’s so important that everyone here has the vital skills to save a life.”

Head of BHF NI Jayne Murray said:

“Knowing simple CPR skills and how to use a defibrillator is vital to ensure that every person has the best chance of survival. We believe hundreds of lives could be saved every year and hundreds of families saved so much heartache and grief if everyone has the training and skills to help them save a life.

“Through the work of BHF NI more than two thirds of post-primary schools can offer CPR training. But we need to do more to make sure that every young person leaves school with CPR training. We urge every post primary school and community group in Northern Ireland to teach lifesaving CPR by applying for our Call Push Rescue training programme or Nation of Lifesavers community package. It only takes 30 minutes to learn how to save a life.”

The charity’s call comes as it supports the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, in collaboration with Sport Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Sports Forum to identify and collate the current provision and location of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) within the sports sector across Northern Ireland.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said:

“Our ongoing work to identify and map Automated External Defibrillator (AED) provision across the culture, arts and leisure sector is a significant contribution by my Department to the Community Resuscitation Strategy and I support the partnership working that makes the extension of AED provision possible. These life-saving skills are easy to learn but they could potentially have a huge impact. Equipping people with this knowledge takes only half an hour. The more people in sports and community organisations with awareness of CPR and access to defibrillation the more opportunities there will be to save lives.”

For more information on the free CPR training kit or to apply for the Nation of Lifesavers community package visit To register your sports club’s AED

For more information please call Gemma Burns, BHF Northern Ireland on DD: +442890538301 | Ext: 2404 or Mob: 07471902454 or email   For out of hours support please contact the BHF press office on 07764 290381 or email


CPR 1 and 4: (L-R) David Healy, Aisling Reilly, Caroline O’Hanlon, Neil McManus, Stephanie Leckey (BHF NI Area Development Manager), Robin McCready, Hugh McManus and Dr Aisling Diamond (Medical Director of the Belfast Marathon) take part in CPR training to raise awareness of British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland’s (BHF NI) campaign to train more communities in CPR and defibrillator awareness and save hundreds of lives each year.


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