Sean Culleton, 63, a retired warehouse manager from Ballyshannon, collapsed during a Donegal League game between his club Bundoran and Cloughaneely on Thursday last.
Standing on the 12th tee in Cloughaneely, Mr Culleton had just smashed a drive up the centre when he fell to the ground. Luckily, Brian McGee, on the opposing Cloughaneely team, is a trained first responder and he quickly reacted to Mr Culleton’s collapse. Owenie McGee, also a trained paramedic and member of the fire service, was on the next green. He raced down and commenced CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) while two other firemen Denis Boyle and Joe Friel came from two more greens.
Their colleague Antoin McGee was soon on the scene with the local fire brigade defibrillator and for 40 minutes they worked on Mr Culleton while Dr Lochlann McGill, who lives nearby, was also present.
Following the dramatic rescue, Mr Culleton was rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry where he was diagnosed with having had a heart attack and had a stent inserted before being transferred to Sligo University Hospital from where he was allowed home on Tuesday.
Speaking to the Donegal News from his home on Wednesday, Mr Culleton, who is well on his way to recovery, was anxious to give credit to his fellow golfers on the course who gave CPR and “stopped the clock” until paramedics arrived.
“It was the shock of being five up as we stood on the 12th that did it,” said Mr Culleton, a father of three who is married to wife, Mary. “On a more serious note though, I had been feeling tired for a few days in the lead-up to the game and just thought that I was getting too old to be playing competitive golf. I remember telling the lads that I was feeling tired as I stood on the tee and the next thing I can recall is waking up in the ambulance in Stranorlar on my way to Sligo. I don’t remember being in Altnagelvin at all.
“Fair play to the boys. I owe my life to them.
“They brought me back from the edge of death, quite literally, and it looks like I’ll be here for a while yet to annoy Mary, thank God. I’ve to take things easy for the next 10 weeks at least and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Micheal Murray, Cloughaneely Golf Club PRO, said the incident showed the value of early CPR and said he was in no doubt that it saved the golfer’s life.
“The intervention on the course by his fellow golfers was what ultimately saved Sean’s life as, to all intents and purposes, the man was dead. That’s what the doctor told us,” said Mr Murray.