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Choke hold that HSE paramedic allegedly put on student nurse 'could have been life-threatening', court hears

Ennis Circuit Court heard today that the alleged offence “would result in a restriction of oxygen to the brain”.

File photo
File photo
Image: Sam Boal/

THE HEAD OF the country’s Civil Defence College has told a court that the alleged manoeuvre carried out by HSE paramedic Andrew Long on two women at a first-aid course “could have been life-threatening”.

At Ennis Circuit Court today, Principal at the Civil Defence College in Roscrea, Roisín Maguire said that the manoeuvre described in court “could be life threatening because basically, you would be restricting blood flow to the brain”.

The witness for the prosecution said that this “would result in a restriction of oxygen to the brain and it would be a dangerous manoeuvre in my opinion”.

Maguire said: “The manoeuvre is not included in any of the manuals or any of the first-aid literature in all of my training. There is nothing that would demonstrate that kind of manoeuvre that I would see in training.”

In the case, 4th-year nurse student, Mary Nihill has alleged that Andrew Long knocked her out and rendered her unconscious when he placed his arm around her neck outside the classroom of a Civil Defence First-Aid course at the Vocational Education Centre in Scarriff in March 2013.

Mother-of-three and seven months pregnant in March 2013, Elise McMahon has told the jury that her airway was cut off and that she could not speak when Long allegedly performed the manoeuvre on her the same night.

In the case, Long (35) of Carraig Dubh, Tobartaoscain, Ennis has pleaded “not guilty” to assault causing harm to Mary Nihill and Elise McMahon in March 2013.

In a garda interview read out in court today the allegations concerning Nihill and McMahon were put to Long and, in reply, Long said: “There is no substance to these allegations.”

When asked if the women were telling lies, Long stated: “I deny these allegations.”

When asked if he put a choke hold on Nihill and McMahon by Detective Garda Bernard Casey,Long replied: “I deny such allegations.”

Detective Casey told the court that Mr Long has no previous convictions.

In evidence today, Course Director in Paramedic Studies at the University of Limerick, and prosecution witness, Mark Dixon was asked by counsel for the State, Philip Rahn BL to comment on the manoeuvre described by Nihill and McMahon which resulted in the cutting off of supply of oxygen and blood in the neck

In reply, Dixon: “I think it is most important to state that the first rule of any medical education is to do no harm, whether it is the Hippocratic oath or a professional code of conduct.”

He said: “The absolute golden rule is that you never do harm and certainly what I have heard described, the occlusion of an airway with the potential starvation of oxygen would never be condoned in any form of educational process.”

Asked by Rahn why that is, Dixon replied: “The brain is a very sensitive organ. The brain needs oxygen and sugar to live. If you take one of those elements away, it becomes potentially life threatening.”

Anyone who has done a first aid programme or life saving or rescue course everything starts around the airway and this is the tube that runs from the mouth and the nose to the lungs. Any manoeuvre that closes that airway prevents oxygen getting to the brain and that is life-threatening.

The prosecution case completed today and the case continues tomorrow.

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Read: HSE paramedic ‘knocked out’ student nurse and ‘choked’ pregnant woman, court hears

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Gordon Deegan

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