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Nurse thanked for leading community response to save man’s life after he suffered a cardiac arrest playing walking football at Collingham Football Club





A nurse who led a community effort to save a man’s life after he suffered a cardiac arrest on a football pitch was thanked by the survivor.

Gemma Tarr, a cardiology nurse, stepped in after 65-year-old Nick Barton collapsed at Collingham Football Club just metres away from her during a walking football session.

What happened next – in an incident that took place on Sunday, November 26 – was an impressive display of community spirit as several members of the football club worked together to save Nick’s life.

The Air Ambulance helicopter landed on the pitch in Collingham.
The Air Ambulance helicopter landed on the pitch in Collingham.

“Obviously I found out about everything afterwards because I was out,” said Nick, who lives in Retford.

“I have been told about who did what and the fact is it was a massive team effort.

“I have the broken ribs to prove it.

“Gemma really stepped up, with others, and saved my life. A nearby referee was an ex-army medic and he came over to help.

Eileen Tomlinson from Nick's employer presents Gemma Tarr with flowers.
Eileen Tomlinson from Nick's employer presents Gemma Tarr with flowers.

“Three people were performing CPR, one grabbed the defibrillator, one phoned the ambulance.

“Another person ran to the nearby Co-Op to buy packs of razor blades.

“I have such a hairy chest that the pads from the defibrillator wouldn’t stick to me so they had to fetch the blades to shave my chest to get the pads on.

“I now have a defibrillator pacemaker fitted.

“I cannot say enough for Lincoln Hospital, I was in there a fortnight and they were fantastic.

“I am convalescing at home now and hopefully by the summer I will be back playing again. I love Collingham now after what everyone did for me.”

A spokesman for Collingham Football Club said they were delighted to welcome Nick back for a small celebration. A member of the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance – which was called out on the day – also attended.

Nick’s employer, haulage company F C Tomlinson and Son, was on hand to pass their thanks on to Gemma – with company director Eileen Tomlinson presenting the nurse with flowers.

“Nick Barton has been with us for many years and he is a very valued member of our team,” said Eileen.

“He had this incident in November and our thoughts have been with him since that time.

“We wish him a speedy recovery and the least I could do is to be here today.

“We want to thank the air ambulance and we want to thank Gemma for saving his life.

“I thought it was gallant of the community to step up and help Nick in his time of need.”

Gemma — who lives in Collingham — said she was pleased to see that Nick was well after the incident.

She said: “I know people think it was lucky we were there but he was incredibly lucky to survive.

“The chances of surviving that is extremely slim.

“We have a lot of defibrillators around the area but unless you are trained and know CPR, a defib alone is not going to save a life.

“We need as many people trained as possible who can help when the occasion arises.

“Particularly at sporting venues, we need as many people as possible to be trained and confident to use their skills.

Nick Barton and Gemma TarrNick Barton went back to Collingham Football Club after suffering a cardiac arrest during a walking football session. Seen here with nurse Gemma Tarr, one of the people who saved his life.
Nick Barton and Gemma TarrNick Barton went back to Collingham Football Club after suffering a cardiac arrest during a walking football session. Seen here with nurse Gemma Tarr, one of the people who saved his life.

“A lot of people came together to help, fortunately Nick survived which is the main thing.

“Everyone pitched in, people were bringing coats for Nick, people put up a tarpaulin to protect his dignity, others went to the Co-Op to get razors and scissors.

“It was a real team effort.

“The lucky thing was that I hadn’t been to walking football for four or five weeks because I had been working.

“It was my first Sunday in a while, the stars just aligned that day.

“He wasn’t lucky that it happened to him but he was lucky there were a lot of people around that were able to help.”

Gemma said that several training sessions will be run in the village to upskill more people to be able to save a life.



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