A hospital doctor who performed CPR on a stricken Newcastle United fan has admitted that hearing thousands of Gallowgate End fans chanting “hero” was one of the best moments of his life.
Sunday’s match against Tottenham Hotspur was stopped in the first half for about 20 minutes as it became clear there was a medical emergency in the stands. Tom Prichard, an A&E consultant at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton, was identified as one of the people who helped save the elderly Newcastle fan’s life. He took over performing CPR on the unnamed man who had gone into cardiac arrest.
Prichard told the BBC that he could see fans calling for stewards and first aiders so he went over to help. “It’s something you see at work fairly often but I haven’t really had it outside the hospital before,” he said.
Others had started the CPR before Prichard, who added: “We gave the guy a shock through the defibrillator and he was quite fortunate this guy because very quickly an intensive care doctor arrived, a cardiologist arrived and we were able to bring him back again.”
Prichard said he had no idea the game had been stopped. When it was over he was given a standing ovation by fans with footage widely shared on social media. “I do want to say, this wasn’t just me,” he said. “I had another doctor friend helping me out. St John’s [Ambulance] were brilliant, the Newcastle club doctor was there helping, so it really wasn’t just me. But what I will say is when I was walking back to my seat and 10,000 fans were chanting ‘hero’ at me, that was one of the best moments of my life.”
Prichard said it was early chest compressions and early defibrillation which had saved the man’s life.
Newcastle said after the game that the man was “stable and responsive” in hospital. In a statement they said: “The club would like to thank fans for their swift actions in raising the alarm and praise those who provided immediate chest compressions, as well as thanking the on-site medical professionals who swiftly administered emergency treatment using a defibrillator located close to the incident.
“Newcastle United club doctor, Dr Paul Catterson, also attended the incident to offer additional support with an additional defibrillator. Our best wishes go to the supporter and their loved ones and we hope for a swift and full recovery.”
The game was stopped in the 41st minute when Eric Dier and Sergio Reguilón made the referee, Andre Marriner, aware of the emergency situation.
It was a sell-out crowd, with Newcastle fans jubilant at the end of the Mike Ashley era after their controversial takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Newcastle lost 3-2.