Worksop referee shares story of heart attack to thank air ambulance for saving his life

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A Worksop grandfather who suffered a heart attack while refereeing at a football match last year has thanked the air ambulance for saving his life.

The part played by the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) in the chain of survival has been highlighted in the case of a Worksop grandfather who suffered a cardiac arrest when he was officiating at a football match.

Andrew Jarvis, who was 60 at the time of the incident, collapsed at Rainworth Miners Welfare FC's home ground in Mansfield where he was assistant referee for a game against Hallam FC.

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By the time the helicopter landed at the scene, Andrew had been given CPR and the football club’s defibrillator had been used to restart his heart – both crucial and essential to Andrew’s survival.

Andrew Jarvis with Shannon Brooks, Hallam FC’s physio, who also plays for SJR Worksop Women FC, who used a defibrillator to treat him.Andrew Jarvis with Shannon Brooks, Hallam FC’s physio, who also plays for SJR Worksop Women FC, who used a defibrillator to treat him.
Andrew Jarvis with Shannon Brooks, Hallam FC’s physio, who also plays for SJR Worksop Women FC, who used a defibrillator to treat him.
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But to give his heart the best chance of recovering and to improve his oxygen levels, the DLRAA critical care crew anaesthetised and intubated Andrew– medical interventions that are normally only carried out in a hospital setting – to stabilise him for an air transfer to hospital.

After the lifesaving actions already performed on Andrew, it was imperative to his long-term recovery to get him as quickly as possible to the nearest hospital where the cardiac surgery he urgently needed could be carried out.

It took the air ambulance just 13 minutes to fly to Royal Derby Hospital compared with a road journey in a land ambulance of 45 minutes by the quickest route with no traffic delays.

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Within minutes of landing at the hospital’s helipad, Andrew was being treated by cardiac specialists who fitted a stent to widen a blocked artery.

Three days later he was well enough to go home.

Andrew said: “I’m told it was touch and go for a while. My condition was critical, and I could have been brain damaged but luckily, I am alive and OK.

"I am so thankful to everyone who helped me.

"I got quality treatment from highly skilled people at the scene and then I was transferred straight to where I needed to be for a lifesaving procedure.”

Since the incident in August 2021, Andrew has joined forces with the physiotherapist who called the emergency services and gave him CPR to raise enough money to provide three defibrillators at non-league football grounds.

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He also wants to promote the work of the local air ambulance and the part they played in his survival by sharing his story.

Andrew continued: “I knew that the air ambulance is a charity, but I didn’t realise that it relies totally on donations and fundraising to keep operational.

“I thought there was some state support. This is why I want to use my story to help raise awareness of and funds for the lifesaving work they do every day of the year.”

A retired teacher, Andrew is hoping to become a volunteer speaker for the charity now he is feeling better.

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Just ten months after his cardiac arrest, he now walks every day, goes to the gym, swims and is thinking about going back to refereeing.

But one thing he knows for sure is how fortunate he was to have been at the football club when he collapsed.

He said: “I was in the right place at the right time which meant that the chain of survival worked for me.

“The emergency services were called quickly, I was given good quality CPR, a defibrillator was available and was used effectively on me, and then I got the critical care at the scene with a rapid transfer to hospital.

“I am incredibly lucky to be alive and I cannot thank everyone involved enough.”