Medical marvels to the rescue after singer collapses on stage

Speedy first aid and the immediate availability of an emergency heart-start machine saved the life of a singer who collapsed on stage in Poolewe last weekend.

Popular Gaelic singer Don R MacIver had been performing at a concert in Poolewe Hall, but mid-song he indicated he felt unwell, and soon after he collapsed.

It took the quick intervention of medical personnel in the audience, and crucially the use of a defibrillator installed at the building, to prevent a family ceilidh from turning into a tragedy.

Ambulance technician Johnathan MacLennan from Skye was in the audience, but quickly had to put his medical skills to use after the singer took ill.

Within seconds Johnathan, along with trained nurse Maureen Cumming and local firefighter Michael MacLean, helped to perform Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The defibrillator – which the community had secured from the Lucky2bHere charity – then proved vital in ‘shocking’ Mr MacIver’s heart into rhythm after Cardiac Arrest.

Mr MacLennan (24) recalled: “He was midway through his song when he stopped and said he didn’t feel so well. I could see by the colour of his face something wasn’t right. The next thing he collapsed. Within a couple of seconds CPR was being performed, and within minutes we had the defibrillator ready.

“It’s essential in these circumstances to act quickly – it gives the best chance of survival.”

Prizegiving 2011 Maclennan family
Johnathan MacLennan: “If the equipment is there, people can survive”.

After two shocks of the defibrillator Mr MacIver regained consciousness, and an ambulance arrived a few minutes later to take him to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness – where he remained as we went to press on Wednesday.

Ceilidh organiser Doreen Gunn said the family had been immensely grateful for the speedy medical attention that was on hand to help the well-known performer and previous Mòd medallist.

She added: “It was a really close call – it doesn’t bear thinking about what would have happened had the defibrillator not been there and were it not for Johnathan, Maureen and Michael.”

Johnathan – who had been there because girlfriend Linda Macleod was also singing on the night – added: “It just goes to show that even in places like Poolewe, at 11.30 on a Friday night, if the equipment is there and there are trained people at hand who know CPR techniques, then people can survive a Cardiac Arrest.”

The Lucky2bHere charity was founded over eight years ago by Skye man Ross Cowie, who had suffered a Cardiac Arrest and was saved only be the fact that an ambulance was passing nearby.

Since then the appeal has provided defibrillators and emergency life support training in dozens of locations throughout Scotland.

The defibrillator at Poolewe was installed two years ago. It is reckoned that last weekend’s incident is the first time a defibrillator donated by Lucky2bHere has been used in an emergency situation.

Poolewe Hall.                   Photograph, CC/Alpin Stewart