“It could have been a bloodbath”: Limerick mother calls for donations to Munster charity air ambulance service which saved her life after cow attack

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Noelle O’Brien, who was attacked by a cow, near her home in Galbally, Co Limerick, and was airlifted to hospital with serious internal bleeding, by the Munster-based Irish Community Air Ambulance on August 26, 2019. Ms O’Brien is photographed here with her husband Paddy O’Brien, and their children Andie, Ollie, and Paudie.

A Co.Limerick woman, who was attacked and seriously injured by a cow while walking in a field with her three young children, has urged people to donate to the Munster charity air ambulance service that saved her life.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the attack, which left her with severe internal bleeding and in recovery for a year, Noelle O’Brien, said the incident could have been “a bloodbath” had she not put herself between her children and the animal.

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Ms O’Brien’s infant son Paudie, who was four months old at the time, was harnessed to his mother when she was knocked to the butted and knocked to the ground by the enraged cow.

Sean Cunningham (2), from Galbally, Co Limerick, being airlifted to hospital on July 2 this year, by the crew of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, after sustaining serious burns when he accidentally scalded himself with hot liquid.

The mother of three managed to get her one-year-old son Ollie and daughter Andie (3) out of the way of the charging cow and, despite her serious injuries, she eventually fended off the animal by slamming an electric fence wire on its head.

Ms O’Brien is one of five people from the village of Galbally, Limerick, who have been airlifted to hospital by the Irish Community Air Ambulance, since it was established in 2019.

The service, runs entirely on donations, and costs €1 million a year to operate, with each individual mission costing €3,500.

“I roared at my friend and the kids to get in under the wire, because I knew there was something wrong. Then the cow stuck her head down and belted me into the side. I had my four month old in the harness with me,” Ms O’Brien explained.

“She started to back off and then hit me again and she got me on the ground. I managed to get up and she hit me in my back towards the electric fence, so I had quite a lot of damage in my back as well.”

“We ran in under the wire and she started running towards me again so I pulled the wire down on top of her neck.”

“She backed off then, thank God. We didn’t know it at the time but what was wrong with the cow was we were actually heading towards her new born calf, so that’s why she went for us.”

Her three children, her friend and her child, were miraculously uninjured.

“My damage was all along my side, because I turned to protect my four month old. It’s a pure miracle there wasn’t a scratch on Paudie. In between the second blow and third blow, I managed to shunt the others towards the fence, it could have been a bloodbath, to be honest.”

Ms O’Brien sustained six broken ribs, a lacerated liver, and internal bleeding, which required life-saving surgery in the Mercy Hospital, Cork.”

Back on her feet, she and her local community have planned a series of fundraising events in the village throughout this bank holiday weekend, with all proceeds going to the air aumbulance.

Another local mother, Virginie Muller-Feuga, watched in horror as her two-year old son Sean was airlifted in the Irish Community Air Ambulance to hospital after he accidentally scalded himself with hot liquid on July 2 this year.

“He poured a fresh cup of tea on himself and got burned severely on his arm and on his chest. The air ambulance made the decision to airlift him because the case was time-critical. As soon as they came, they brought a sense of organisation and calm, because we were running around like headless chickens and they organised everyone and were really professional,” said Ms Muller-Feuga.

“The paramedics were super and they made Sean comfortable and administered pain killers right away and made sure he had the right type of bandages.”

“I also have to praise the 112 emergency services because they kept us on the line until the air ambulance was there, and they gave us good instructions; as well as Sean’s grandparents, who were minding him at the time and they did exactly what was needed, which was to put Sean under cold water in the shower for an extended period of time.”

The two women who bravely shared their stories said the charity chopper service was vital and appealed to the public to keep it going by donating online or visiting Galbally this weekend.

The air ambulance, which is based in Rathcool, north west Cork, was last week tasked to 21 emergency incidents, including five alone last Saturday.

The crew of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, which has saved a number of lives in Limerick and beyond. (L to R): Paul Traynor, Advanced Paramedic; Micheal Sheridan, CEO; Donnah Verling, Chief Pilot; James Ward, Advanced Paramedic. Photo by Brian Lougheed.

“The crew saved my life, they stabilised me and kept me calm despite it all,” Ms O’Brien added.

The air ambulance has responded to more than 1,000 incidents since it was established in July 2019.

To donate to the service visit https://communityairambulance.ie