Hero’s quick thinking saves cricketer’s life

To the rescue: Fylde Cricket Club first team player Mike Watkinson has been hailed a hero after helping 'to save the life of another cricketer using 'mouth-to-mouth, CPR and a defibrillator
To the rescue: Fylde Cricket Club first team player Mike Watkinson has been hailed a hero after helping 'to save the life of another cricketer using 'mouth-to-mouth, CPR and a defibrillator

A cricketer is the toast of his club today after dramatically saving the life of a player who collapsed with a suspected heart attack.

Michael Watkinson, 28, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, chest compressions and used defibrillators to shock player Bob Nuttall when he collapsed and stopped breathing.

Michael, vice-captain of Fylde Cricket Club’s first team, frantically tried to revive the lifeless Mr Nuttall on the outfield as worried team mates looked on in horror.

Paramedics arrived and took over but said Michael’s actions almost certainly saved his life.

Michael said: “I was concentrating so hard and kept doing the chest compressions, just praying the paramedics were going to arrive soon. “His team mates said I was doing a great job and to keep going.

“It was a great feeling to see the colour come back into his face.”

Michael was playing for the Poulton-based Fylde CC at Vernon Carus, near Preston, when Ingol CC player Mr Nuttall collapsed during a game on an adjacent pitch against Vernon Carus 4ths after he had been run out.

Michael, from Bispham, said: “I had batted and was on the side watching our game. Bob had been run out on the other pitch and, as he was walking off the pitch, he keeled over.

“Everyone thought he was taking the mick out of his mates because it was so hot. But then he didn’t move.

“One of his lads went up to him and then it became apparent he was in a bad way.

“I walked over to see if there was anything I could do.”

Michael, who was given first aid training as part of his Level 1 coaching course with the English Cricket Board (ECB), added: “One lad had put him in the recovery position but he still wasn’t breathing. I gave him mouth-to-mouth and then chest compressions, while someone went to get the club’s defibrillator.

“I carried on while the machine got ready and, no matter how hard I was trying, Bob still wasn’t breathing. People kept saying ‘keep going.’

“I put the pads on his chest, everyone stood back and then I shocked him with the defibrillator. I kept doing the heart massage and then the paramedics arrived.

“They put an oxygen mask on his face and the colour was starting to drain back into his face and he had started to breathe again.”

Mr Nuttall was taken to Royal Preston Hospital before later being transferred to the cardiac unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Michael, an insurance broker at Rowlands and Hames, said: “We all felt so relieved. It probably wasn’t until the next day when I heard Bob was OK that I think what happened began to sink in.”

The Ingol v Vernon Carus match was abandoned while Michael went back to join his team-mates.

He visited Mr Nuttall, who is in his 50s, in Blackpool Vic last week, along with fellow Fylde player Paul Willis.

Mr Nuttall is expected to undergo a triple heart bypass this week.

Michael, who has played for Fylde for 15 years, said: “He was walking around and talking us through how he felt. He was very appreciative of the people who helped him. He said he was looking forward to getting better and playing again next year.

“When I did the first aid course I was expecting to have to deal with the odd cut or even a broken bone or two. I didn’t expect to have to try to save someone’s life!”

Graham Lawton, treasurer at Fylde CC, said the club bought its own defibrillator kit earlier this season which arrived on July 11 – the day before Michael’s rescue mission.

He said: “We are all very proud of Michael for reacting as he did in the circumstances. He almost certainly saved the lad’s life.

“We decided six months ago to get a defibrillator. We received a grant from Wyre Council and are now planning to train people how to use it.

“We hope never to have to use it but Michael’s experience shows it could be invaluable.”

A spokesman for the English Cricket Board said: “We wholeheartedly applaud Michael’s quick thinking which undoubtedly saved Mr Nuttall’s life and trust that he will make a full recovery following surgery. We would also urge more cricketers to undertake First Aid training and support the wider use of defibrillators by cricket clubs.”

To find out more about ECB’s range of coaching courses, please visit / http://www.ecb.co.uk/development/coach-education/

How defibrillators saved Muamba

Many sports clubs bought defibrillators following the collapse of Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba during an FA Cup tie at Tottenham in March 2012.

He suffered a severe cardiac arrest at White Hart Lane when his heart stopped beating for 78 minutes.

Muamba, 25, was given 15 defibrillator shocks following his collapse on the pitch at Tottenham and ambulance trip to the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green after suffering hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy – abnormal thickening of the heart muscle.

He is now campaigning for more defibrillators to made available at sports grounds across the UK.

Muamba, who has since retired, said: “Access to defibrillators is key and being able to train everybody to do CPR. That’s what needs to be done. A lot of sports people die from sudden cardiac arrests so I think it’s important to train kids, train everyone involved in football clubs to be able to do CPR. Access to defibrillators is very important.”

‘Quick-thinking difference between life and death’

Chris Hyde, from the North West Ambulance Service, said: “When someone goes into cardiac arrest, it is vital to recognise the emergency, start CPR but also to get the defibrillator and apply the pads.

“In this case, the quick-thinking of team mates to use a defibrillator helped save a patient’s life.

“The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is 100 per cent supportive of any 
sporting club, workplace or charity organisation getting defibrillators. We can only praise the club on obtaining the defibrillator and being prepared to use it in a cardiac arrest situation.

“We are increasingly seeing more people saved by these machines and it’s reassuring that it’s not only defibrillators that NWAS are placing but also those obtained themselves. It is part of our initiative to place defibrillators in areas where there is a higher risk of cardiac arrest and to help people recognise the warning signs.

“The Chain of Survival initiative focuses on four key immediate actions, which when delivered in sequence will give the patient a greater chance of survival; these are: early access – call 999, early CPR, early defibrillation and early advanced care.

“Before the paramedics arrived at the cricket club, individuals were able to deliver vitally important treatment to the 
patient and increased their chances of survival.

“Every minute that passes without defibrillation, 
the chances of survival fall by 
10 per cent.

“We have to praise the cricket club for investing in the kit that helped to save the life of a fellow cricketer. Also, the quick decision to administer those life-saving actions was potentially the 
difference between life and death.”

NWAS NHS Trust also encourages organisations to register their defibrillator with the ambulance service through the Cardiac Smart website http://www.cardiacsmart.nwas.nhs.uk and by clicking on the tab “tell us about your defibrillator”.