By Damian Dolan
A London hurler who administered CPR to a teammate who collapsed on the pitch is encouraging more GAA players to train in First Aid – as it might one day help to save a life.
Kilburn Gaels captain Stephen Lambert was among the first to recognise the seriousness of Brian Regan’s condition, when the London skipper collapsed on the pitch at McGovern Park in Ruislip on 29 September.
Stephen was the first to start administering CPR.
Stephen had completed a two-day refresher First Aid training course through his work, just days before Brian’s collapse.
He says more players should be trained in at least a basic level of First Aid, so they have an understanding of CPR, defibrillators, recovery positions and concussion.
He would like to see the GAA clubs take the lead on making sure their players are trained.
“It was just very fortunate that I had it done at that time,” said Stephen.
“It’s very important for players to understand what can happen and the severity of certain incidents.
“Defibrillators are a very easy thing for people to be trained on and I would encourage people and clubs to do it. Every club and every ground should have their own defibrillator.”
Brian collapsed on the pitch just before half-time in Kilburn Gaels’ senior hurling championship fixture with Robert Emmetts.
Stephen’s training kicked in, in those crucial first few minutes.
“Initially we thought that he was concussed but after maybe 20-30 seconds we realised that his breathing was deteriorating,” he said.
“I realised then that he was in a bit of trouble and it was time to start CPR. Time stood still for me.”
From Gort, Co Galway, Brian remains in Harefield Hospital where he’s been monitored and is undergoing tests to discover the cause of his collapse.
While Brian could be facing a “long road back” to full recovery, as Stephen points out the outcome could have been “a lot worse”.
“He’s in very good form; he’s back to himself, laughing and joking. He definitely lowers the average age of the ward by about 30 years,” said Stephen.
“He’s on the road to recovery and that’s the main thing. He’s very fortunate and he knows that.”
Several nurses, including Stephen’s girlfriend Katie Connolly, who were in the stand watching the game realised the severity of the situation and took over treating Brian on the pitch.
The first of five ambulance crews was on the scene within minutes.
“They [the nurses] were unbelievable; they were so clam in the situation – they knew exactly what to do,” said Stephen.
“I know my name has been mentioned, but all the credit has to go to them. They calmed the situation down.
“When you have a lot of untrained people a lot of panic sets in, and that’s part of the reason why I would encourage everyone to have a basic level of First Aid training.
“When panic sets in, that’s when things don’t happen. The ambulance isn’t called, people don’t get the defibrillator, CPR isn’t started on time.
“Those first couple of minutes are very important that you keep oxygen going to the brain so that there is no risk of brain damage.
“Everyone needs to be aware of what can happen and be proactive and react to the situation.”
Stephen also praised the reaction of Robert Emmetts’ players.
“We’re very grateful to the Emmetts players for the way they carried themselves when Brian collapsed. They were very considerate and none of them pushed to want to continue the game,” he said.
“It just shows the type of characters they are and Kilburn are very thankful.”