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HomeDairyVID: Slurry fumes: O’Halloran’s bravery saved Ella’s (18) life
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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VID: Slurry fumes: O’Halloran’s bravery saved Ella’s (18) life

In 2021, Ella Casey, Ballymahon, Co Longford, was saved by the quick thinking and actions of Keith O’Halloran, after she was overcome by fumes from agitated slurry on a neighbouring farm she was working on.

The now 18-year-old, who hails from a family farm operated by her father, was knocked unconscious with gases following agitation in the dairy shed she was working in.

Despite leaving the recommended 30 minutes to pass after agitating, Ella was the victim of lingering gases.

As part of Farm Safety Week 2023, she explains, in a video released by the IFA, how the accident, which occurred in August 2021, unfolded:

“This here, was my first job, working as a farmhand. So, the day of the incident, it was like any other morning really, just the ordinary jobs.”

“I then came up and started agitating. The way that it started was that the agitator broke down, so they had to take it away.”

“We waited 30 minutes, which is the recommended time. I walked back in here to the robot rooms and I had to duck down to get into the gate that was there at the time.”

“So, when I ducked down, I hit the heavy gas that was lying because it is heavier than air. My eyes started watering and I got a splitting headache.”

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Life-saving phone call

Luckily, she had her mobile phone on hand and rang the farm owner’s son, Keith O’Halloran, and while he answered the phone, Ella did not respond because she had already passed out.

Keith said: “I got a phone call from Ella, but she did not say anything on the phone. I ran downstairs straight away looking for her and I found her on the floor, unconscious.”

“I picked her up and ran outside with her and lay her down on the ground outside and rang dad.”

Derek O’Halloran, the farm owner, added: “I got the phone call when I was down on the other yard. Keith told me that Ella had collapsed. I guessed straight away what was after happening.”

“We came up here as fast as we possibly could. We rang 999 and ambulances, and helicopters arrived, and Ella was airlifted to hospital. She was in a bad way.”

“I was proud of Keith because he got Ella out, but he was at severe risk himself. One good breath and he was done as well. It all ended up good, but only just.”

Luke Casey, her father said: “I was working at home on my own farm when my daughter, Bee, and we got a phone call to say Ella fainted.”

“When we arrived, there was a small smell of slurry. She was lying on the ground almost lifeless. That had a terrible impact on Bee.”

“I would not wish it on any family anywhere in the world,” he said.

Doctors told the now 18-year-old that she is “very lucky to be alive” and she is hoping to raise awareness around the real dangers of working on a farm, following her own near-fatal experience.

The 11th annual Farm Safety Week (FSW) commences on Monday, July 17th, 2023. Initiated by the Farm Safety Foundation in the UK and led by the IFA in Ireland, it has the support of more than 400 partners in five countries – here, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

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