How a defibrillator helped save a fan's life ahead of non-League derby in Haverhill

Saturday 29 September 2018 is World Heart Day. Organised by the World Heart Federation and supported by UEFA and their social responsibility partner for health, Healthy Stadia, this year’s event aims to raise awareness of heart health and healthier lifestyles.

Friday 28 Sep 2018
The defibrillator installed at Haverhill Rovers was funded by the FA and British Heart Foundation last year

It was just before a local derby between Essex clubs Haverhill Rovers and Haverhill Borough in September 2017, when a supporter in his 60s fell ill and collapsed…

Word quickly spread around the New Croft as concern grew, but fortunately help was on hand in more ways than one.

Haverhill Borough player Tommy Hardwick, a trained fire fighter with first aid training, along with Haverhill Rovers welfare officer Lisa Shulver, they were quickly on the scene to help.

"I was a sub that day and was just walking out onto the pitch to sit on the bench ready for the game to start,” explains Hardwick.

“And then the chairman called me over to say someone had collapsed.

The defbrillator which has been in place at Haverhill Rovers since 2017

"From there, the training just kicks-in and you've got to stay nice and calm.”

Lisa added: "Tommy had got the chap in a recovery position and we then assessed him and found out that he'd stopped breathing.

“He started with the chest compressions, so I ran and got the defibrillator and it delivered a shock.

"We carried on CPR for another three or four minutes, until he came back around.”

Thankfully, the defibrillator in question was already in place at the club, following last year’s funding for grassroots clubs from The FA and British Heart Foundation.

"They took control, there was no panic and really took a grasp of the situation,” added Haverhill Rovers chairman Alastair Shulver.

The two clubs met in this season's Emirates FA Cup in August

“I believe it was that, alongside the equipment that we had to hand in the football club that really made that whole occasion a success.

"If we hadn't had a defibrillator on site, the gentleman wouldn't have stood much chance of surviving.

"The defibrillators are now being distributed by the Football Association to most clubs in the country and obviously this will save loads and loads of lives in the future.”

This year’s theme for World Heart Day is ‘My Heart, Your Heart’ and about creating a sense of collective commitment to improving heart health, via physical activity, improved diet and reducing smoking and alcohol intake. Find out more about World Heart Day.

Why not start your road to a healthier heart by playing football? Find out where you can get started with a local club.

By FA Staff