Physio saves squash player’s life with CPR and a defibrillator

A physiotherapist helped to save a man’s life, after he collapsed at a squash club.

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Julian Morgan and physiotherapist Wendy Levin

Wendy Levin, a senior paediatric physiotherapist at the Royal Free Hospital in London, works part-time at a special school and also coaches at a squash and tennis club.

Last month, she came to the rescue when Julian Morgan, a member of the club, almost lost his life.

She told Frontline: ‘I was at the club when somebody asked, “Does anyone know anything about epilepsy?”. As I see epilepsy a lot of at the school, I went to see if I could help.

‘But when I got there I took one look and thought “This is not a seizure” - it wasn’t epilepsy - he was having a massive cardiac arrest.’

Before Ms Lewin arrived on the scene, a group of people trying to help Mr Morgan were unsure whether to move him onto a chair or put him on the floor.

‘He’d gone purple and had no output,’ said Ms Lewin.

‘So we put him on the floor and I started CPR.’

While she did compressions, the others called for an ambulance and fetched the club’s defibrillator.

‘They asked, over the phone, how long I’d been doing compressions and I said about a minute and a half, but apparently it was around 15 minutes.

‘We shocked him with the defibrillator, until the machine said not to shock him anymore, and then the paramedics arrived.’

Emergency surgery

By this point, Mr Morgan had started having seizures, due to anoxia to the brain, and it took the team of paramedics around half an hour stabilise him.

He was taken to hospital, where he was kept unconscious for 24 hours and received emergency surgery.

Since then he had made a good recovery and Ms Levin has visited him.

‘He had to have seven stents put in and his arteries were 80 per cent blocked,' she said.  'And he had an ICD [implantable cardioverter defibrillator] fitted, so that will shock him if he ever has another arrest.’

Value your training

After her experience with Mr Morgan, Ms Levin wants to remind other physios to value the life-saving training they receive.

‘I’ve worked in the NHS a long time, and have attended endless resuscitation training over the years. But it only takes one occasion like this – where you save a life – to show how valuable all that routine and mandatory training really is.

‘It also goes to show how important it is to have defibrillators in the community and that we, as physiotherapists, do have the expertise to help in these type of situations.

‘Due to our training, we all have those skills under our fingertips – and you never know when you might have to use them...’

Increasing the availability of defibrillators

The CSP has backed a call by the Oliver King Foundation for defibrillators to be available in all schools and public buildings.

The charity is urging the government to install defibrillators in all public buildings by 2020.

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by Robert Millett

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