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First aid life-savers at the races

Event first aid volunteer scans a crowd for problems© Info13 August 2010

When a man collapsed and stopped breathing during a horse-riding event, Red Cross volunteers joined forces with St John first aiders to make sure it wasn’t his last day at the races.

The emergency happened during the summertime Chester Races. A man in his fifties visited a first aid station run by St John Ambulance complaining of pain in his left shoulder, then suddenly collapsed. The volunteer gave the casualty a defibrillator shock and called for back-up, then started giving CPR treatment.

Red Cross volunteers Jim Aitken and Pete Morris – who both have full ambulance crew training – pushed their way through the crowds to the emergency scene. Jim recalled: “Good old Jan, the St John volunteer, was sweating profusely and it was obvious she’d been giving CPR for a while – it’s really hard work. She was knackered, so we took over.”

Full recovery

The casualty was showing no obvious signs of life so Pete carried on with the CPR treatment while Jim put an airway in and used a bag valve mask to breathe for him. By the time the paramedics arrived five minutes later, the man was once more breathing and making slight movements.

Jim and Pete helped transfer the critically ill patient onto an ambulance helicopter. Incredibly, after just four days’ hospital treatment, the man was discharged and is now recovering at home.

‘One big team’

Jim said: “The odds on getting someone back from such a point – he’d stopped breathing – are very slim so we did well. And it was Pete’s first time dealing with such a serious casualty so he deserves a big pat on the back.”

The incident also showed how closely the Red Cross and St John Ambulance work together at events. Jim explained: “We’re one big team around here. We have a great working relationship and this emergency showed it at its best.”

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