accessibility & help

Alan and Mariusz’s story: Festival life-savers

Scot ER volunteer - Alan SmithTwo hero first aiders fought their way through huge crowds to save a woman’s life after she stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest at a packed music festival.

The 40-year-old woman had just spent the weekend at the Tartan Heart Music Festival at Belladrum in Northern Scotland. Early on 9 August, just as thousands of people started to leave the festival campsite, she began to have breathing difficulties – then her condition quickly worsened.

Her worried friends called the Scottish Ambulance Service, and they alerted the Red Cross team who were still on site at the festival. Two first aiders – Alan Smith and Mariusz Kollmann – immediately set out in an ambulance but were soon frustrated by the crowds.

‘Breathing again’

Alan recalled: “With such a massive flow of people trying to leave the campsite, I had to just get out and run some of the way. When I arrived, the woman had already stopped breathing so I started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation straight away. Thankfully, Mariusz arrived just behind me with a defibrillator.”

Scot ER volunteer -  Mariusz Kollmann

Volunteer Mariusz added: “We attached the defibrillator and gave the lady one shock. Using a heart monitor, we could see she had a pulse and a few seconds later she started breathing again. We put her on oxygen until the ambulance arrived, then she was taken by helicopter to hospital.

“I’ve been a paramedic for 9 years but, even after all this time, it’s still an amazing feeling when you manage to bring someone back. It makes all the training and hard work worth it.”

There to help

Looking back on the incident, Alan said: “This was the first time I’ve used a defibrillator but at the time I didn’t think about it. All the first aid training kicks in and you just go onto automatic – though afterwards it took me a while to calm down! I’m just pleased and relieved we were there and could help.”

A team of 30 volunteers provided round-the-clock first aid cover at the festival, treating 160 casualties over the weekend.

Event first aid teams have had a busy festival summer across much of the country, helping hundreds of casualties at major events such as WOMAD, Wickerman, T in the Park and Glastonbury.

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