As a group of friends from Loughor, Swansea, looked forward to a game of golf on a sunny day last September, they didn’t expect to be saving their friend’s life.

46-year-old Ian Hammond suffered a cardiac arrest, fell unconscious mid-course and almost died.

But less than six months later, he’s back on the golf course thanks to the quick actions of his friends through CPR and defibrillation.

With the cardiac arrest survival rate in Wales at less than 5%, Ian’s friends, along with Save a Life Cymru, are urging others to learn lifesaving CPR skills.

Andrew Thomas, Martin Powell, Tom Davies, Neil Bryant and Dave Hodson, members of Fairwood Park Golf Club, all played their part to save Ian’s life on a day they’ll never forget.

Andrew, who administered CPR on Ian, said: “It was just a normal Sunday. A few of us boys met at the club to play that morning – it was the perfect weather to play golf. When we were on the way round the course, Ian complained of a little bit of chest pain, but wrote it off as indigestion and carried on playing.

“After teeing off on the seventeenth hole, he hit his shot – probably the best shot he’s hit to be honest, but next thing, he collapsed right in front of our eyes. He fell like a tree. Martin shook him, and he wasn’t responding, and I knew at that moment something was up.

“I started CPR, Tom called 999 and they instructed us to get the club’s registered defib. I was just fixated in that moment and had tunnel vision. I administered CPR on him for six or seven minutes and all I could think about was getting him back with us – I needed to save his life.”

With every passing minute CPR or defibrillation is not performed, a person’s chance of survival decreases by 10%. Fairwood Park Golf Club had recently installed three defibrillators at different locations across the course, luckily, they are all registered, so the 999 call-taker could guide us to the nearest one, and this was pivotal to Ian’s survival.

Tom, who called 999, said: “Andrew told me to call the emergency services, we had them on loudspeaker, and they talked us through everything we needed to do and where the nearest defib was. Luckily, we had one nearby at the club. I think that, and Andrew’s CPR, saved his life.

“He was airlifted to Morriston Hospital in Swansea where he was looked after by the medical team. As soon as they took him in the helicopter, I just fell back. I was speechless. It took me a long time to process what had happened, then it hit home.

“I thought I had lost my friend. It was a horrific situation. I never want to be in a position like that again to be honest with you. It was horrible. But, you’ve just got to focus on bringing him back to life.”

Save a Life Cymru aims to improve cardiac arrest survival rates in Wales and wants to increase confidence in administering CPR with their ‘Help is Closer Than You Think’ campaign.

Tom continued: “You’d like to hope you’d never be in that situation, but the best piece of advice I’d give is to act straight away. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Call 999, and they will talk you through exactly what you need to do. We were able to work as a team and everyone played their own small part.

“It was a very emotional time. You’re meant to be staying calm, but you’re totally worried as well. We had a call about a week later to say Ian was recovering well. I was so relieved; it’s amazing to see him back on the course with us. We’re all thrilled to bits.”

Over 6,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests happen in Wales every year to people of all ages. Since the event, over 150 members of the golf club have received training, and the men are urging more people to learn vital CPR and defib skills.

Andrew said: “People tell me they couldn’t have done what we did, but doing nothing isn’t an option. I was thankful I’d had CPR training, so I was familiar with what was needed, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared.

“I’d encourage people to get CPR and defib trained. It only takes 15 minutes online. I feel like that gave me more confidence in that situation. You can learn the skill just once, and it can set you up to save someone’s life.”

Now back doing what he enjoys, Ian said: “I can’t believe I’m still here. I’m forever grateful to all my friends and everyone at Fairwood Golf Club. I didn’t know I had any underlying health problems before, and without their quick actions and having a defib nearby, it would be a different story.

“Thanks to the boys, I can play golf, watch my mates play rugby and enjoy life. It was a big team effort to save my life.”

Save a Life Cymru, is the strategic lead in Wales dedicated to improving cardiac arrest survival rates, advocating for CPR and defibrillation within communities and urging individuals to learn or refresh these lifesaving skills.

Len Nokes, Chairman of Save a Life Cymru, said: “Our campaign aims to raise awareness that more people need to be CPR and defib aware, so they are more confident if they ever need to use those skills. So we’re encouraging people to take some time this month to learn or refresh their skills.

“We also want to make sure that every person has the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest – so educating people on spotting the signs, the importance of calling 999 and starting CPR is crucial.

“Save a Life Cymru has a community-based team who work collaboratively with Welsh Ambulance, these Community Coordinators are transforming CPR, access to defibrillators  and  supporting communities to register defibrillators on The Circuit, so more people like Ian can survive a cardiac arrest.”

If a cardiac arrest happens, call 999. The call taker will tell you what to do, talk you through how to do CPR and direct you to the nearest registered defibrillator and they will also send an ambulance crew.

You can find out more about CPR and defibrillation training at https://executive.nhs.wales/SaLC   

You can also learn CPR in 15 minutes for free through RevivR here: https://www.bhf.org.uk/revivr

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