Nurse revives ‘clinically dead’ man after collapse drama at RL game

A NURSE from Heckmondwike has been hailed as a hero after performing live-saving CPR at a rugby match.

Darren Ripley was seconds away from leaving Birstall Victoria’s White Lee ground before rushing back to resuscitate club stalwart Ian Hemingway, who was ‘clinically dead’ for more than 10 minutes.

Mr Ripley, a clinical support worker at Leeds General Infirmary, performed chest compressions on 63-year-old Mr Hemingway after he

collapsed on the pitch following Birstall Vic’s friendly game with Normanton.

Committee member Mr Hemingway, father of Batley Bulldogs player Tom, was surrounded by his distraught family and friends as Mr Ripley battled to save his life until paramedics arrived.

He then helped the ambulance crew use a defibrillator to revive him.

The 35-year-old nurse is now keen to stress the importance of first aid training for sports club members – and the need for clubs to consider buying defibrillator equipment.

Mr Ripley, of Longfield Court in Heckmondwike, said: “I was out of the gate and about 10 seconds away from leaving the ground when I heard someone shouting my name. At the far end of the pitch I could see people gathered, and when I saw someone start chest compressions I just started running.

“In hospital I’ve done it many times before, but in a field like that it was absolutely terrifying. I was performing chest compressions on my own for 10 minutes at the very least, and it’s incredibly tiring. I was bathed in sweat but you just can’t give up.

“When the responder car and then the ambulance arrived I continued to help with the resuscitation and we gave Ian four shocks with the defibrillator pads before we got a pulse.

“It’s brought home to me just how important first aid training is for club members. You need to be willing to do it in practice, not just to tick a box and attend a course.”

Mr Hemingway, of Shirley Avenue in Birstall, was taken to Dewsbury District Hospital, where coincidentally Darren’s wife Kate was working in A&E as a cardiac nurse practitioner.

“I’d phoned Kate when I was performing CPR to get some advice, and then we handed care over to her when we reached Dewsbury,” Mr Ripley continued. “I stood with Ian’s family and tried to explain to them what was happening, then just tried to calm myself down. It was a hugely emotional experience for everyone involved.”

Keen biker Mr Ripley’s 10 year-old son, Reece, plays in Birstall Vic’s

Under-11s side and he often helps out with first-aid and junior

coaching at various levels.

Club officials have hailed Darren as a hero and are planning a special treat to show their appreciation for his life-saving efforts.

Secretary Mark Lockwood said: “Ian had been watching the game and just went to help us bring in the goalpost pads when he collapsed. He went down like a stone.

“I saw the commotion and went over and people didn’t know what to do. I started loosening Ian’s collar because he was just gone. He was ashen, his eyes were staring.

“I pumped his chest and then one of our ex-players Richard Duffy tried, but Darren then took complete control.

“He started pounding Ian’s chest and kept going until the ambulance arrived and they took over and found a pulse, then a few minutes later got Ian breathing on his own.

“If Darren hadn’t been there, or this had happened a little later when Ian was just helping us clear up in the changing rooms, I hate to think what would have happened. He’s a real hero.”

Mr Hemingway is now recovering well in Leeds General Infirmary after being transferred from Dewsbury, and Darren, along with many Birstall Victoria members, has visited him several times.

“I saw Ian the day afterwards and he didn’t have a clue what had happened,” concluded Mr Ripley.

“I broke some ribs when I was doing the chest compressions, but if you don’t do that then you’re not doing it hard enough.

“I was in the right place at the right time, and I just hope clubs will now see how important first aid training and having a defibrillator on hand can be.”

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