FOUR St John Ambulance volunteers were recognised last Sunday [14th June] for saving the life of a Wakefield Wildcats fan who suffered a cardiac arrest.
A presentation was made at half time during the game against Salford to thank Mike Crothers, 57, Rachel Davies, 47, and newly trained first aiders Jen Ward, 23, and Alex Diffley, 25, for giving vital emergency treatment to 68-year-old Gordon Harding of Bull Lane, Crigglestone, Wakefield.
With no history of heart failure, the grandfather of three collapsed to the floor during a match on April 23. Called by his son for help, two St John Ambulance first aiders ran to the scene and began chest compressions, also known as CPR.
Minutes later, two more of the charity's volunteers brought a defibrillator and were joined by the crowd doctor. They worked as a team to restart Gordon's heart and give him oxygen to keep him alive until paramedics arrived.
Although Gordon went on to suffer further cardiac arrests in the ambulance and in A&E at Pinderfields hospital, he miraculously returned home last month after having a defibrillator fitted.
The retired bricklayer and loyal Wildcats fan said: "I remember nothing. The last thing I knew was Wakefield scoring a try and that is it. Gone. It was a lot worse for my family, I've given them all a scare.
"Words cannot express the huge debt of gratitude owed by my family and I to members of St John Ambulance whose prompt and efficient action was instrumental in saving my life."
His son Richard Harding, also of Crigglestone, was at the match with his mother, 13-year-old son and two friends. He recalled: "Everyone cheered and I heard a thud. I turned round to find my Dad on the floor, totally unconscious and bleeding where he'd hit his head. It was very shocking, I thought he was dead.
"Their early help was critical. If it had happened anywhere else, where there was no St John Ambulance on duty, I have no doubt in my mind Dad wouldn't be here today."
The swift and skilled action of the St John Ambulance volunteers has attracted praise from medical professionals as well as family members.
Dr Patrick Tung, the duty doctor that helped save Gordon, said: "They remained composed and worked as a team in a highly professional manner. As a consultant in Emergency Medicine, I would not hesitate to work with any of them again."
Lifesaver Mike Crothers has been a St John Ambulance volunteer for seven years. He said: "Everybody knew exactly what their jobs were and we coordinated it between us.
"The doctor and I gave the patient oxygen and AED shocks while Alex continued CPR and Jen looked after the family and the paperwork. Rachel had to work with stewards to move people from the metal barriers to protect them from shocks.
"It's the worse case I've dealt with and some people were a bit shell-shocked afterwards.
"People ask how did we manage it and I say it's testament to St John Ambulance's training. We are trained so well so that we do it without thinking."
Gordon is planning attended Sunday's presentation to thank the volunteers in person. He extended his thanks to Dr Tung and the staff at Pinderfields Hospital, where he said the care had been "second to none".
St John Ambulance has 38,000 volunteers nationwide giving their time in roles ranging from first aiders, trainers and youth leaders to community first responders, paramedics and doctors.