It was a normal busy day on the farm. Michael Hegarty, one of our regular contractors, was also due with the digger.
He’s a firm favourite and we have a great chat over dinner. He loves his dessert! I was singing in my heart. Michael was the first contractor to be back in the house after lockdown. Up to then, the others had been eating outside.
With my son Philip’s wedding to Aileen due in a few weeks, my husband Tim had asked Michael to regrade the drive in front of the house. Michael can use the digger like a spoon. His precision is a joy to watch. Ricky, my grandson, was thrilled with the goings on. Michael was working around the front door and Tim was taking away the stuff in the loader. Two big machines for a tiny little boy.
Ricky was so enthralled, he got his cup and sat himself down in front of the glass by the front door.
We chatted away. The focus was on Michael. Colm was asking him about his work
Dinner time came and Michael came off the machine. Tim, my other sons Colm, and Diarmuid, daughter Julie, Ricky , Michael and I were around the table.
We chatted away. The focus was on Michael. Colm was asking him about his work, how busy he was and so on. Michael was talking. Then quite suddenly he couldn’t find a word for underpass using his hands to gesture instead. Colm filled in the word. Michael said: “What is wrong with me at all? I can’t talk.”
Within minutes Tim saw that Michael’s work was slipping
A red light went off in my brain. I wondered if I should call an ambulance. The moment passed. Michael gathered himself and headed out. Tim was hot on his heels. He too had wondered, though no words were spoken. Within minutes Tim saw that Michael’s work was slipping. He approached him and asked if he was OK. Michael came off the digger saying: “There’s something wrong with me.”
The kitchen door opened and Michael came in flanked by Tim. Tim said: “Michael is not feeling well.” You tell yourself not to panic but it’s hard not to think the worst.
Most of all you want to do the right thing for the person in trouble.
The girl on the phone stayed on the line telling Colm how to check out Michael with questions
Colm had called an ambulance. Michael was confused and distressed.
The emergency services were amazing. The girl on the phone stayed on the line telling Colm how to check out Michael with questions like: “Can he stand up? Can he stretch out his arms in front of him? Can he smile?” My immediate reaction was to offer Michael something to drink. “No,” the girl cautioned, “do not give him anything to eat or drink.”
Michael was able to walk to the ambulance. I had quickly put together a hospital bag for him
In hindsight that makes perfect sense – in case someone needed surgery. The ambulance arrived. The paramedics were calm and professional. They told Michael, that he may have had or was having a stroke. Michael was able to walk to the ambulance. I had quickly put together a hospital bag for him. We stood and watched as the ambulance eased out the drive.
We were shocked but in our hearts, we knew we’d done the right thing. If in doubt – call an ambulance.
A thank you to the emergency services
Michael knows I’m writing this piece. He’s a very kind gentleman and gives his permission freely in the hope that it might help someone else.
There is an onus on us farmers to keep a check on the contractors that we depend on.
We’ve always given them the dinner or supper as necessary. If nothing else, it allows interaction. Many contractors, including Michael, work alone for hours on end. It is important to check in on them.
Michael didn’t have a stroke, but he did have a medical issue that needed attention
While the mobile phone is important, when Michael was confused, he was unable to use it to alert his family.
Michael didn’t have a stroke, but he did have a medical issue that needed attention. He was back on the job as soon as he was released from hospital. Sometimes when the stones crunch under my feet on the drive, I think of that day.
I was in the right place at the right time with the right people
As is Michael’s nature, he dropped in a beautiful card and chocolates afterwards. The card read: “I was in the right place at the right time with the right people. Thank you to the O’Leary family.” The heroine of the story is probably the girl on the end of the phone. We forget to thank the people who answer the calls. To all of you in the emergency services; a big thank you. CL