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Rugby coach urges others to learn first aid


A Welsh rugby coach is urging people to learn first aid - after he saved a players life.

Clive Jenkins, 58, from Kenfig Hill RFC was given first aid training by St John Cymru Wales and, until recently, had only relied on his skills to deal with minor accidents such as sprains, fractures and concussions.

A few months ago he was on the sidelines during a charity rugby veterans game at his club, when 51-year-old player Martin Burnell collapsed during the first half.

Clive said, “I ran onto the pitch and quickly realised that Martin wasn’t breathing. I opened his airway by tilting his head back, as I’d been shown in my first aid course, but when he didn’t start breathing again, I immediately began CPR.

“Another member of the coaching team called the ambulance and I continued the chest compressions until the paramedics arrived and they could shock Martin with a defibrillator. It took three shocks of the defibrillator to get his heart going again.”

Martin was taken to the Princess of Wales hospital where he spent a week before being transferred to Morriston Hospital in Swansea where he was fitted with an artificial pacemaker. He has now made a full recovery.

Martin said, “I had felt fine all day but began to feel quite unwell as the game went on. The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital four hours later. The team told me that Clive saved my life and I was so grateful to him. I’m fairly fit and healthy, so I never thought I’d be at risk of cardiac arrest. It just shows how important it is to have first aid training.

Clive said, “Since Martin’s collapse the club has bought an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) so we are prepared if anything like this was to happen again.”

Research shows that, in Wales, around 20,000 people attend A&E every year because they are injured playing sport.*

Statistics obtained from the Wales Rugby Union (WRU) show that the most common injuries while playing rugby are head and face injuries, including concussion.

St John Wales has created a Rugby Emergency Aid Course in partnership with the WRU, which has already funded 100 of these courses so far this season, in addition to the provision of first aid kits and equipment. But the charity is now encouraging more people to learn these lifesaving skills.

Jon Phillips, Director of Training at St John Wales said, “Clive and Martin’s experience shows that knowing what to do in those vital first minutes of an emergency situation could dramatically increase your chance of survival. I’m glad to hear Martin has made a full recovery.

“Our aim is have a first aider on every street in Wales and I’d advise anyone involved in any sport, whether playing, coaching or just watching, to contact us and sign up to a course in their area.”

St John Wales and the WRU are currently holding pilot courses for young rugby players. The partnership is part St John Wales’ vision of having a first aider in every street in Wales and also supports the Welsh Rugby Union's attempts to ensure the sustainability of rugby clubs in Wales by equipping the volunteers of the future with core skills.

To take part in a first aid for sport course, set up a course in your area, or donate money so that your local club can get first aid training from St John Wales.


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