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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Carlisle man's quick-thinking saves pal's life after he collapses playing football

A father has described the terrifying moment when a football game among friends turned into a battle to save a player’s life.

Football friends photo
Jim Rocks, right, with Dougie Hewitt

Doctors do not know why Jim Rocks’ heart stopped beating, but it is agreed that the 57-year-old, of London Road, Carlisle, is only alive today thanks to the efforts of Dougie Hewitt.

The two men had played casual football alongside each other for years, gathering with a group of like-minded men from across Carlisle at Trinity School for the weekly kickabout. But on March 25 their relationship changed entirely, after Jim collapsed.

Dougie, 50, a civil servant from Durranhill, recalled: “Jim got tackled and went down dramatically and I took off up the wing. No-one came to tackle me and when I looked back Jim was laying on the floor.”

Dougie is also a coach for Harraby Catholic Club’s Under-14 girls’ football team and so has received first aid training.

He raced back to Jim, where he realised his lips were blue. “I thought that wasn’t good,” Dougie, a dad of three, continued. “So I began CPR. I’ve only been trained to do it for children and Jim is a bit bigger than an under-14 girl, but I adapted it.”

Their teammates took on their own life-saving roles, with one person timing compressions and breaths, another counting the compressions and a third on the phone to the ambulance.

“I did it for a bit and stopped, and Jim’s lips turned blue again,” Dougie said, “so I carried on until the ambulance arrived.”

Paramedics took over and used a defibrillator to restart Jim’s heart.

He was taken to Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary where he spent three days in a medically-induced coma and with his body temperature lowered.

Jim, also a father of three, does not remember the incident – about 10 days have been wiped from his memory, including the four leading up to his heart attack.

“I actually got a speeding ticket,” Jim, a senior lecturer at Cumbria university admitted. “However, my wife said I had no recollection of it because of my heart attack and so could not admit it. She asked what to do now and they cancelled it.”

Despite the memory loss, Jim knows that he owes his life to Dougie and his friends, telling him: “If ever you need anything, I would do it.”

But Dougie added: “He’d do the same. It was bad timing. There is never a right time but I was the right person. We’re men, you don’t say thank you. You just get on with it.”

As the first anniversary of the incident approaches, the pair have spoken of it for the first time to help raise awareness of the importance of basic first aid skills. They are backing a drive by St John Ambulance to encourage more people to complete courses.

Since his heart attack Jim has had a quadruple heart bypass to prevent it occurring in the future.

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