Reading Royals cardiac arrest patient reunited with life savers

John Hayward saved by St John Ambulance 

Life-long Reading fan John Hayward, 76, from Camberley was reunited with first aiders who saved his life last Saturday. John was welcomed onto the pitch at half time during the game against Charlton, after recovering from a triple heart bypass.

John suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed at the Madejski Stadium as he was preparing to watch the Royals take on Barnsley on 25 March. John, who is a Reading season ticket holder, had gone along to the match with his son Jonathan as usual.

They’d both taken their seat in readiness for the match to start, when John suddenly collapsed in the stand. Thankfully, their seats are just 10 rows back in the West Stand – directly behind the base for the pitch-side paramedics.

On hearing of John’s collapse the event safety team consisting of St John Ambulance volunteers, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) clinicians, and the club’s stadium management teams sprang into action. Eddie Chan of St John Ambulance and Rich Company from South Central were first on the scene.

It was evident that John was very unwell and the pair quickly transferred him to one of the stadium’s First Aid Posts where Rich and Eddie started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Other St John first aiders Sean Mahon and Mark Grosvenor as well as SCAS crowd paramedics Paul Cowmeadow and Emma Toose also joined to help.

Rich and Eddie performed advanced life support and delivered three shocks, using a defibrillator to restart John’s heart. Subsequently John was taken under the care of Paul and Emma as a priority patient to Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. A few days later he was transferred to The Heart Hospital in London where he underwent a triple heart bypass operation. He was discharged from hospital and returned home on 14 April. 

John, who can’t remember anything of what happened that day, said: “I’m so grateful for everything everyone did for me and throughout my recovery. If it wasn’t for the whole medical team at the stadium, and the wonderful hospital staff, then the outcome could have been very different.

“I’d encourage everyone to learn some life saving skills as you never know when you might need them.”

St John Ambulance events lead and duty officer on the day Eddie Chan commented: “This shows the importance of responding quickly with early effective CPR and advanced life saving skills in such a situation. This is why knowing first aid is so important as it really can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.”

Rich Company, SCAS Paramedic, said: "John’s story is testament to how well St John Ambulance and SCAS work together and how important early, effective CPR is in people’s chances of surviving cardiac arrests.”

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About St John Ambulance
As the nation’s leading first aid charity, St John Ambulance believes that nobody should die because they needed first aid and didn’t get it. St John Ambulance teaches people first aid so that they can be the difference.