Goalkeeping doctor saves opponent’s life during Sunday League game

A doctor playing as a goalkeeper was called into action during a Sunday League game when an opposition player collapsed on the pitch.

Arlesey Town custodian David Jones, 31, a doctor from Hitchin, Hertfordshire spotted a Shefford Veterans player collapse at the end of the first half of the friendly.

The player was not breathing and had no pulse, at which point Dr Jones realised he was suffering from cardiac arrest – he began performing CPR before asking those present to find a defibrillator and call 999.

A helicopter arrives at the football pitch after a Sunday League footballer suffered a cardiac arrest
A helicopter arrives at the football pitch after a Sunday League footballer suffered a cardiac arrest

“It felt like only a second or two, but it was probably a few minutes later the team mates had gone to the club house and grabbed the defibrillator, which I guess we were very fortunate to have,” Dr Jones told the PA news agency.

After the defibrillator was used to administer a shock, the player regained consciousness and was apparently sat up and talking minutes later.

“I’ve never had to do anything like this outside of hospital, it was a first-time experience for me,” said Dr Jones, who was described by the team’s manager as “a down to earth lad”.

“It’s certainly a very different experience to being in a hospital, where you’re in a nice environment where you know where everything is.

“Once he’d regained consciousness and was sitting up again I was aware that my heart was pounding quite hard. It was definitely a a bit of a shock to the system.”

Two ambulances and a helicopter arrived at the scene, while the game was abandoned.

Thanks for all the lovely comments. I hope the man makes a speedy recovery. This highlights the importance of teaching everyone how to perform CPR and having widely available defibrillators: they really are lifesaving devices.

— David Jones (@davidrhysjones2) August 26, 2020

Dr Jones said he had heard from Shefford Veterans that the player was still in hospital, while Arlesey’s manager Nino Nieli added: “Without the defibrillator I think there would have been a different outcome for the chap.”

Dr Jones said: “I think that’s maybe a wake-up call for me and hopefully for others as well that we should be looking out for where these defibrillators are and just trying to raise awareness of CPR and how to use defibrillators.

“Even with my background as a doctor, the skills you use for CPR can be taught to someone in a 30-minute session.”