AN OFF-duty firefighter has been praised by the family of an 82-year-old football referee who collapsed during a match at the weekend.
Paul Barks, 29, leapt into action when the referee was taken ill, using his ‘first on the scene’ training to administer CPR.
Along with other spectators who made use of the community defibrillator, Paul managed to keep the patient alive until emergency services arrived on the scene.
The granddaughter of the referee – named locally as Jim Tomlinson – later got in touch with Paul to thank him for his efforts.
West Midlands Ambulance Service praised the actions of all the spectators who gave first aid and the fire service praised Paul’s ‘quick thinking.’
A retained firefighter at Ipstones and dad-of-two, Paul said: “I was just doing the fencing at Tiny Tots and I had to wait for the cement to set so I took my daughter across and we went to watch the football.
“All of a sudden there was a commotion and my brother, Pete, shouted to me so I ran onto the pitch.
“I did all the checks but there was no pulse and he wasn’t breathing.
“I started CPR while someone went to fetch the defib.
“I carried on doing the CPR and we used the defib which shocked him twice. He started to breathe again.
“I had to keep going with the CPR until the paramedics arrived. It was only minutes but it seemed like an age.
“When they’d got him stabilised and into the air ambulance, the doctor came across to me and said he would’ve died if we hadn’t done that.
“It’s the first time I’ve had to use my first aid training. It was surreal – I didn’t think about it, everything just kicked in. Pete Jones was assisting and we just did what we could.
“It just goes to show the importance of having defibrillators in the community – we can’t stress that enough.
“His granddaughter told me he wasn’t out of the woods yet, but hopefully Jim will come through.”
The incident happened during a Uttoxeter and District Sunday League match between Ipstones AFC and Tean Rangers.
A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We were called on Sunday, September 9 at 10.54am to Ipstones Recreation Ground on Church Lane.
“We were called out to an elderly gentleman, the referee of a football match after going into cardiac arrest.
“Bystanders were quick to react, performing CPR and gaining access to the community defibrillator, call operators could hear the equipment being used over the phone.
“A rapid response unit was dispatched, arriving at the scene in eight minutes, along with an ambulance, a community first responder and the air ambulance for Staffordshire.
“These services combined, managed to get the patients heart restarted before he was anaesthetised ready to be transported to Royal Stoke University Hospital.
“It’s worth noting the lengths these bystanders went to, to help save the life of this man. “How far they were prepared to go, performing CPR and using the defibrillator with basic knowledge.
“It was excellent to hear, and although it is still early days, these people gave the patient the best possible chance of survival.”
Watch Manager at Ipstones, Pete Jones, said: “As firefighters we attend many incidents where people are in urgent need of first aid so we receive training to deliver this, including how to carry out CPR and use a defibrillator.
“We’re very proud to hear that thanks to this training and his quick thinking, Paul who was off duty at the time, was able to use this skill in order to help a member of the community.”
Members of the football community have rallied around in support of the well-known referee, and are awaiting further news of his condition.
Founder of Tean Rangers, Luke Shaw, said: “Through the fast acting of both clubs we managed to stabilise Jim with the aid of the village de-fib and calmness from the certified first aiders.
“The paramedics and air ambulance took over and he was airlifted to hospital and ‘was in as good of a condition’ as he could be.”
“I think situations like these underline the importance of having qualified first aiders and if there is a village de-fib there are people within sides that know exactly what to do in these situations.”
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