Watch: Northern Ireland student nurse hailed a hero after helping to save young woman's life at Belfast International Airport

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A student nurse based at the Urgent Care Centre in Lagan Valley Hospital has been hailed a hero after helping to save the life of a woman at Belfast International Airport.

Caitlin Woods, just 24, suffered a life-threatening heart attack outside Belfast International Airport and Lisburn student nurse Karen Cochrane quickly stepped in to help to save her life.

Karen, who is also a former midwife, was on her way to catch an early morning flight to Southampton with her daughter, Hannah, when Caitlin collapsed just outside the airport entrance.

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Caitlin, who was traveling to Liverpool with her partner and her family, suddenly fell to the ground on a zebra crossing as she approached the terminal.

Hannah (Karen's daughter), Caitlin and Karen meet up again. Pic credit: SEHSCTHannah (Karen's daughter), Caitlin and Karen meet up again. Pic credit: SEHSCT
Hannah (Karen's daughter), Caitlin and Karen meet up again. Pic credit: SEHSCT

Karen's daughter Hannah alerted her to the unfolding emergency and with quick thinking and professional training, Karen immediately sprang into action.

Caitlin's mother and partner, who were with her at the time, were understandably distressed and shocked by the sudden turn of events. Karen's daughter Hannah provided much-needed reassurance to Caitlin's family during the distressing moments.

Armed with her medical training, Karen immediately began CPR, with help from both airport staff and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service over the phone, in order to help stabilise Caitlin until the Air Ambulance and Paramedics arrived.

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Her decisive actions were instrumental in saving Caitlin's life, demonstrating the vital role that CPR training plays.Karen explained: "My daughter suddenly said to me that a girl had collapsed outside the airport.

Student Nurse, Karen Cochrane who saved a woman's life when she had a heart attack outside Belfast International Airport. Pic credit: SEHSCTStudent Nurse, Karen Cochrane who saved a woman's life when she had a heart attack outside Belfast International Airport. Pic credit: SEHSCT
Student Nurse, Karen Cochrane who saved a woman's life when she had a heart attack outside Belfast International Airport. Pic credit: SEHSCT

"I went over to her expecting her to have fainted. I quickly realised the patient was non-responsive so I knew that the situation was much more serious.

"Along with myself and airport staff, we coordinated and I did mouth to mouth resuscitation, maintaining the patient's airway and one of the airport staff did compressions whilst the other counted compressions. The teamwork was excellent. The defibrillator was brought and used to restart Caitlin's heart. "I had only used a defibrillator in training and this was the first time I had seen it used in practice.

"I was so relieved when the paramedics arrived and at that same time, much to my relief, the Air Ambulance was flying overhead.

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"The medical team and paramedics then took over and Caitlin was immediately taken by Air Ambulance to Antrim ICU for further treatment."

Mum Terri and Caitlin. Pic credit: SEHSCTMum Terri and Caitlin. Pic credit: SEHSCT
Mum Terri and Caitlin. Pic credit: SEHSCT

Caitlin's mum Terri praised Karen for helping to save her daughter's life and added: "I can't thank Karen enough, the standard of CPR she gave Caitlin was amazing, she wouldn't be here today.

"The hospital staff commented that the standard of CPR given to Caitlin actually saved her life. We have been in touch with Karen since to thank her personally.”

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Karen added: "I am so glad that Caitlin is now recovering well. Terri got in touch with me afterwards, which was lovely as it was reassuring to know that things were going well and that Caitlin was improving.

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“I have met up with Caitlin and her family and they brought me flowers and a gift, which was so lovely.

"It was such a privilege to be able to help."

The family are arranging a fundraising event in Belfast for the Air Ambulance as a thank-you.