A BRYNAMMAN RFC player who had a cardiac arrest on the pitch and survived has paid a touching tribute to his lifesavers.
Simon James, a second row for the club’s second side, collapsed without warning as they took on Cefneithin RFC in April.
Spectators and Simon’s teammates began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, before a Welsh Ambulance Service volunteer arrived and delivered an electric shock to Simon using a defibrillator.
Two ambulances and a helicopter also made towards the scene and the father-of-three was rushed to hospital, where he spent more than a week in a critical condition.
Simon, 37, is now on the road to recovery, and has been reunited with one of his lifesavers, Community First Responder Dave Henry.
Community First responders are volunteers who give up their spare time to attend 999 calls and give first hand emergency care to people in their own community.
All volunteers are trained by the Welsh Ambulance Service to administer basic first aid, oxygen therapy, CPR and the use of a defibrillator.
Simon said: “I’ve got no memory of that day at all, or of that weekend come to think of it. What I do know is that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for everyone who helped me – the first responder, the ambulance crew and the doctors and nurses. You hear a lot about sportsmen who go into cardiac arrest on the pitch, but not all of them survive. I survived.”
Simon, who is father to Corey, 16, Connor, 14, and Katlyn, 12, says he has never had a problem with his heart before, but had a warning sign in the days before his collapse.
He said: “About a week before it happened I was out for my son’s birthday and had a pain in the top of my chest. I just thought it was indigestion or heartburn so I disregarded it. On that Saturday morning I’d been to Choi Kwang Do, and then went out to play rugby. Just before the end of the first half I went down.”
A cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.
The person may suffer permanent damage to the brain and other organs unless someone starts CPR or delivers a shock through the chest wall using a defibrillator.
First responder Dave, of Brynamman, was en route to the club’s ground to watch the game when he had a text message from the ambulance service control room.
He arrived within four minutes and began the ‘chain of survival’ by continuing the chest compressions and delivering a shock to Simon with his defibrillator.
Minutes later, two ambulances and a Wales Air Ambulance with a doctor on board had also arrived and Simon was taken to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital, where he spent five days in intensive care, and a further five days in the cardiac ward.
There, a stent was inserted in the arteries around his heart to improve the blood supply to his heart muscle.
Simon said: “The care I had at Morriston Hospital was fantastic, the nurses really looked after me. I still go back to visit them. I’m so grateful.”
Simon, who is a truck driver with Bridgend-based TD Williams, is now undergoing tests to try and establish what happened.
He said: “The arrest was completely out of the blue, so I’ve been meeting with a consultant to try and get some answers. It’s a bit of a scary time until we find out more.”
Stephen Roberts, Regional First Responder Officer at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “There’s no doubt about it – the CPR that Simon’s teammates and our Dave Henry performed along with the shocks from the defibrillator helped to save his life.
“By the time our ambulance crews had reached Simon, the ‘chain of survival’ was well underway. Without a doubt, it gave him a fighting chance at life.”
He added: “In the unfortunate event that anyone else in the Brynamman community needs a defibrillator, you’ll find one outside The Black Mountain Centre on Cwmgarw Road.”
Wife Gemma is supporting Simon, who has kicked his smoking habit since his cardiac arrest, through his recovery.
Think you can help save a life like Dave? The Welsh Ambulance Service is recruiting more Community First Responders.
Visit the Community First Responders section of the Welsh Ambulance Service website for more information about becoming a volunteer, or email amb_first. firstname.lastname@example.org
Carmarthenshire man with PTSD to run Cardiff Half for veterans
A VETERAN from Pont-Henri in Carmarthenshire is putting his best foot forward to supporting wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.
Anthony Spencer, 34 – who suffers with PTSD after serving two tours of Afghanistan – will be on the start-line of the Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon on 2 October.
And while he laughs at his “abysmal” training ahead of the event, he says he will pound the streets of Cardiff in order to raise money for True Heroes Racing – the UK’s only motorcycle race team dedicated to supporting UK Service personnel and veterans who are wounded, injured and sick:
“As a military veteran myself who still suffers with PTSD, I understand the difficulty that face those who leave the military with mental, physical or social difficulties. True Heroes Racing is a family open to anyone with military ties and I’m hoping to raise much-needed funds to continue my support for this great cause.”
Spencer joined the military as a Royal Engineer when he turned 16:
“Over the course of my career in the army, I was involved in many incidents. I was part of a frontline patrol unit working with the Afghanistan National Army.
“Perhaps the most catastrophic event was a roadside IED – an improvised explosive device – in Helmand province. It hit me a year or two later and I started drinking more and I was becoming more distant and reserved.
“Even now, it affects me. It impacts on my sleep – I only get a few hours here and there a night. And it affects my anxiety levels which make tasks such as travelling incredibly stressful. Loud noises and day-to-day stresses can seem unbearable.”
He was discharged in 2016 and since then he has thrown himself into work. Now a Chief Technical Officer for a Global Technology company.
“I managed to get a successful job. After having a rough ride of things myself but coming out the other end, I decided to try and do something good.
“There isn’t much support for veterans – medical or financial – so what this race team does is absolutely astonishing. We currently have two riders who are amputees and they are both racing at incredibly high competitive levels against able-bodied riders.”
The bikes are customised so that riders who have disabilities can race:
“The customisation is ground-breaking. We have a variety of veterans and serving personnel racing including an arm amputee so True Heroes Racing have been able to adapt the bike for him. But it all comes at a cost. Racing is an expensive sport and in many cases it can cost £40,000 or more per year to run a bike.
“We’re one big family and lots of people can get involved whether it’s as a mechanic, a photographer, a rider or helping to sell merchandise. It’s a great thing to throw your energy into after leaving the military.”
You can donate to Anthony’s Justgiving page here: Crowdfunding to Raise vital money for a great cause http://trueheroesracing.co.uk. A unique team for military veterans and serving personal on JustGiving
The Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon sold out earlier this summer, just three and half months after entries going on sale.
The race is on track to generate its £20 millionth pound in fundraising at the 19th edition of the event this year. Race organisers are urging the public to get behind the event to help it reach this incredible milestone. Over £3 million is raised each year via partnerships with over 90 charities.
A record number of runners from outside Wales (both across the UK and overseas) are registered to take part this year. To celebrate, organisers will be using the event as a platform to celebrate Wales; showcasing everything that is so special and distinct about Cymru and to offer visitors a warm Welsh welcome.
The race is now a part of the SuperHalfs – an international half marathon series including races in Lisbon, Prague, Valencia, Copenhagen and Cardiff. It challengers runners to complete the five race circuit in 36 months in order to earn a ‘SuperMedal’ and other exclusive benefits/prizes.
Old Gold earn big win over Ynyshir
CARMARTHEN put the disappointment of the defeat against Barry Town in their last Cymru South League match well and truly behind them by inflicting this crushing victory on Ynyshir in this first ever meeting between these clubs.
And the Old Gold put the hosts under pressure from the very start with a series of penetrating attacks. As early as the 1st minute Greg Walters, in his own half, sent a superb pass through to Will Rikard who in turn set Noah Daley racing clear and into the penalty area – however, while his subtle lofted shot defeated goal-keeper Howe the ball flew narrowly over the bar.
Then on 3 minutes Bradley Gibbings sprinted along the right flank and threaded the ball through to Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area but Town’s all-time top scorer saw his crisp drive denied by Howe diving swiftly down to claim the ball.
Town continued to dominate these early stages of the game and, almost predictably, they soon took the lead. In the 13th minute Thomas, from the half-way line, sent a fine pass forward to Rikard who in turn swiftly fed the ball onto Gibbings – the influential midfielder then finished this delightful move by drilling a 15-yard shot beyond Howe’s reach and into the back of the net.
While the Old Gold maintained their hold of the game, for a short spell they seemed unable to test the Ynyshir defence in any meaningful way and with both teams too often guilty of misplacing passes there was little prospect of goalmouth action.
Yet that all changed after 37 minutes. A poor back-pass by an Albions’ defender forced Howe into making a hurried clearance – however Thomas, alert to the situation, blocked the ball at close-range and it rebounded into the net much to his delight.
Encouraged by that success Carmarthen once more began to dominate the play and on 43 minutes they extended their lead. Mathew Delaney embarked on a determined run from the half-way line to reach the by-line before sending a fine cross into the goalmouth where Thomas found space to drive the ball past Howe and into the back of the net.
Then after 45 minutes Gibbings made a strong run into the penalty area and held off two defenders before releasing a fierce shot that Howe, dropping smartly down, managed to turn around the post.
After the interval Ynyshir began positively and were soon rewarded with an early goal. On 48 minutes a smart passing move from the right-wing opened up the Town defence and finished with Cambell, in clear space on the edge of the goal area, firing the ball past goal-keeper Ivan Knott and into the back of the net.
For a spell the Old Gold defence remained under some pressure but it coped capably and no further significant threat to their goal arose.
While the rest of the match was quite evenly-balanced in open play, it was evident that Carmarthen were far more of a threat in sight of goal – and, almost predictably, they extended their lead when on 59 minutes Delaney, from the left flank, sent an inviting free-kick across the face of the goal area and saw Daley, at the far post, tap the ball into the net.
Town went close to scoring again after 71 minutes. Adam John fired a free-kick deep into the goalmouth where Lee Surman saw his close-range header blocked on the goal-line – the ball rebounded to Sam Parsons but his follow-up shot was also cleared.
However, the late frenzy of activity in and around the Albions’ penalty area did have a productive ending for the Old Gold when, deep into added time, another corner-kick reached Scott Tancock beyond the far post – he headed the ball back into the packed goalmouth where Parsons forced it into the net.
This win has consolidated Carmarthen’s position in the top six of the Cymru South League and with just 3 points currently separating those clubs every point from forthcoming matches is clearly vital – the next being against Afan Lido on October 1, at Richmond Park k/o 2.30pm.
Late goal sees Lido beat Ammanford
Report and photo courtesy of Ian Parfitt
AMMANFORD suffered the heartbreak of late defeat at Afan Lido on Friday night with an 87th minute winner from Liam Griffiths securing a 2-1 win and all three points for the hosts.
Afan Lido started the match on the front foot and Ammanford were clearly struggling with the pace on Lido’s flanks. A foul in the box led to a penalty for Lido in the 11th minute which was dispatched by Chris Jones.
Afan Lido were largely on top in the first half however were unable to add to their goal. Ammanford were restricted to half chances although Callum Silcox did hit the post with an angled shot.
Ammanford would have hoped for an early goal in the second half and that’s exactly what they got in the 48th minute, the excellent Jordan Langley spotting the keeper off his line and hitting a looping shot into the net from 30 yards.
This goal clearly settled Ammanford and spurred on by a vociferous away support went in search of a second goal.
Afan Lido rode their luck in the 63rd minute when Owyn Airey smashed a shot against the bar.
Callum Silcox then forced Lido keeper Steve Cann into an excellent save in the 74th minute with a rasping, long range effort.
Ammanford looked the most likely team to score and had several other opportunities which they failed to convert.
Ammanford were playing well with Morgan Clarke particularly influential in midfield.
Just when it looked as if a hard fought contest was heading for a draw Griffiths swept home from close range in the 87th minute following a Lido corner.
Ammanford frantically went in search of a second equaliser in the time that remained but this eluded them and the final whistle brought about feelings of what could have been for the away team.
Ammanford will look to put things right in their next match, a home encounter against Goytre Utd on Friday (Sept 30).
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