"Life-savers" hailed at Saltash club

By Nigel Walrond   |   Sports Editor   |
Monday 13th December 2021 5:00 pm
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Richard Haydon, Saltash United senior sports therapist

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SALTASH United chairman Dave Bishop has hailed the club’s medical team and those who assisted them for “saving a life”.

They were called into action just before kick-off off at Saltash’s Western League Premier Division game against Street at Kimberley Stadium, when one of the referee’s assistants had a suspected heart attack in the officials’ changing room.

The casualty was not breathing when they reached him and they had to perform CPR and managed to get a response.

Two land ambulances and the air ambulance arrived at the ground, with the air ambulance landing on the pitch, and the man was eventually taken by road to Derriford Hospital and admitted to intensive care, where, at the time of going to press, he was said to be slowly recovering.

Mr Bishop told the Cornish Times: “Our little medical team saved a life on Saturday and we are just so proud of them.

“Rich Haydon (senior sports therapist at the club) and his little team that all suddenly appeared to help were just brilliant, and it is fingers crossed that the gentleman in question will be okay.”

The bell had just rung in the changing rooms to tell the teams to come out onto the pitch when the drama unfolded.

“He apparently stood up to come out of the changing room and then collapsed,” explained Mr Bishop.

“The teams were coming out. Rich always carries a defibrillator with him over to the dugout. We have two in the club, and on match days we have one pitchside in case something happens on the field, and the referee came out and shouted for assistance because his assistant wasn’t breathing.”

Mr Haydon was assisted by Pete Marrin, an off-duty firefighter from Plymouth, and an off-duty nurse who does not wish to be named.

“Between them they administered the kiss of life, and we called for an ambulance, and there was one there within 10 minutes, and then the air ambulance arrived as well, and they had a doctor on board,” added Mr Bishop. “They worked on the patient for 15 to 20 minutes and then took him off to Derriford by road.”

Mr Haydon told the Cornish Times: “I was walking across to the dugouts with my medical bags and the defibrillator and I suddenly heard a shout to say that one of the officials had collapsed.”

Mr Haydon admitted it was the first time that he had put all the training he had undergone into practice in real life

“I have done my first-aid course, my defib training and an Football Association trauma course, and you are in a classroom scenario, but when you actually do it in real life, you just go into that training mode, and it is not until afterwards that you recognise the reality of it.

“I was quite emotional

afterwards and it took me all of Sunday to deal with it and come to terms with it.

“It is so important that people at clubs do this training and that there are defibrillators at every club.

“It was a really good collective effort by the people involved who were there to help, and everyone was fantastic, and I am really thankful that things seem to have turned out okay.”

Commenting on the events, Saltash manager Dane Bunney thanked all those involved, and added: “Little did we know we were in the presence of some absolute heroes.”

The man taken to hospital is a well-known match official and football administrator in Devon and Cornwall, but the Cornish Times has decided not to name him out of respect for him and his family.

In an update at the end of last week, the club said that the casualty was still in hospital and stable.The match, which was abandoned, will be re-arranged for a later date.

Mr Bishop said that the League and the FA were providing support to the match referee and his other assistant as they come to terms with what happened.

The club recently had a second defibrillator attached to the outside of the clubhouse, paid for in conjunction with the charity Jay’s Aim, so it could be used by the community, but that was recently vandalised by a local youth.

However, it has now been repaired and is back in place.