Firefighter saves a life during Forest Row match

Michael Gaunt
Michael Gaunt

An off-duty firefighter was playing in a local league football game when an opposition player suffered a heart attack on the pitch.

Michael Gaunt, who works as a retained firefighter at the London Road, East Grinstead, station and plays for Forest Row, sprang into action after a player for Stones Football Club suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch in Crawley on January 31.

Michael performed life-saving CPR for 25 minutes.

He said afterwards: “Although we didn’t immediately know what had happened, as soon as I saw him I knew that he needed urgent assistance.

“That’s when my fire service training kicked into action.

“I checked his vital signs and knew he was experiencing respiratory failure and that his pulse was getting weaker.

“ Rapid treatment is critical to someone’s survival chances, so while the 999 call was made I started administering CPR.”

Michael, who works as a builder during the day, continued to perform CPR for around 25 minutes until paramedics arrived.

The man, in his 20s, was then rushed to intensive care by ambulance and is now making a steady recovery in hospital.

Michael is now set to receive a special commendation from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in recognition of his actions.

He joined the service as a retained firefighter in 2012.

Retained firefighters come from all walks of life and are paid to be ‘on call’ for the fire service.

They are often employed elsewhere but live or work close to the fire station and are ready to spring into action to respond to a 999 incident.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Gavin Watts, said: “We’re extremely proud of Michael.

“It’s clear that his calm and decisive actions made a vital life-saving difference before paramedics arrived at the scene.

“All our firefighters, both wholetime and retained, are trained in first aid and often provide support to the ambulance service at fire and rescue incidents.”