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Beyond the Ward: Medical student praised for treating cardiac arrest patient at football match

Frederic Cooper, a 4th year medical student, has been nominated for an official King’s commendation for the exemplary way he organised care for a patient who was suffering a cardiac arrest at a football match.

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Working in his role as a First Responder at the Fulham FC vs Chelsea FC match in January, Freddie was one of the first people on the scene of the medical emergency. He played a key part in treating the patient and organised other healthcare professionals in various roles, such as arranging extraction from the challenging location, keeping a record and time keeping. Freddie was subsequently nominated for the commendation by Dr Zaid Ali, Crowd Doctor at Fulham FC. 

Freddie approached the situation with a calm, collected and logical demeanour. He demonstrated an excellent situational awareness and the priorities. This allowed myself and the paramedic to focus on our tasks.” – Dr Zaid Ali, Crowd Doctor at Fulham FC

Freddie, who was working for medical provider company EMATS, was on break with his teammate when a call came in from another First Responder asking for assistance.

“For some reason, I was worried about what was going on. I had a sense that something was bad,” said Freddie.

He grabbed his heavy first aid kit bag and moved as quickly as possible to the other side of the stadium, where two other medics were performing CPR on a fan who had suffered a cardiac arrest. What made the situation more difficult the normal was that the patient was lying on the ground, wedged in the small gap between two rows of seats, meaning the paramedics had to reach over the seats to give CPR. They were also surrounded by fans who were still reacting to the game, unaware of what was happening.

Freddie requested a handover from the paramedic and asked his teammate to begin taking notes and time keeping. When Dr Ali arrived, they worked together to make the patient’s airway more stable.

The ambulance team turned up, and Freddie and others carefully lifted the patient – wriggling his arms free of the seat and still delivering CPR – onto a scoop stretcher. At this point, the patient received their fourth defibrillator shock. By the time he was moved out onto the street, the patient was biting on their airway and looking around. An ambulance rushed them to hospital, where they recovered well and were released a few days later.

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I tried to be calm and remember my training. But it wasn’t just due to me that the patient lived – it was due to everyone who took part.”– Frederic Cooper, 4th year medical student

Describing how being a student at the GKT School of Medical Education helped, he said: “I could never have done any of that before I started med School here. I learned from some very experienced and highly professional consultants while training.

“I asked the paramedic what they needed, followed the approach and list of priorities. After that, it’s largely problem solving. You then move onto the Hs and Ts, which describe the main causes of cardiac arrest.”

A cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body and is a life-threatening medical emergency. The brain can quickly become starved of oxygen and survivors of cardiac arrest unfortunately often sustain brain damage. If someone has a cardiac arrest in hospital, they may be saved by the specialised treatment on hand.

There are around 60,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK and they have a strikingly low survival rate of only 10%.

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