‘I played a game of squash and died twice...’

South Wales Echo - - News - LAURA CLE­MENTS Re­porter laura.cle­[email protected]­line.co.uk

WHEN Alan Bevan be­gan feel­ing breath­less around Christ­mas time last year, he put it down to get­ting older and a bit heav­ier.

But in the New Year, af­ter a game of squash, he col­lapsed into his op­po­nent’s arms.

His heart had stopped, and he was tech­ni­cally dead. But luck­ily for him, his op­po­nent, Nick Bar­low, knew just what to do.

Us­ing his CPR train­ing and a hand­ily-placed de­fib­ril­la­tor, Mr Bar­low brought his friend back to life. Only min­utes later, how­ever, Mr Bevan’s heart stopped again, and he died for a sec­ond time.

Again, Mr Bar­low was able to bring him back be­fore the am­bu­lance crew ar­rived and took him to the Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal of Wales, Cardiff.

Al­most one year on from the day he died twice at Rhi­w­bina Squash Club in Cardiff, 63-year-old Mr Bevan is back on his feet, al­though he has given up the squash.

“I won that match against Nick, and af­ter we fin­ished, we were com­ing off the court and we sat down on the bench for a rest and a chat,” he said.

“I was just talk­ing to him, when I col­lapsed into his arms, al­though I don’t re­mem­ber a thing about it.”

The mar­ried fa­ther-of-three started play­ing squash aged 15.

He was fit and com­pet­i­tive, play­ing twice a week for his lo­cal club in Rhi­w­bina.

But he said he had felt the warn­ing signs be­fore that day on Jan­uary 12, 2018, he just hadn’t recog­nised them.

“Lead­ing up to that day, I had had some signs,” he said.

“I would get out of breath, es­pe­cially walk­ing up a hill and when the air was cold, but I just put it down to age.”

But on that Fri­day evening in Jan­uary, it all caught up with him and he suf­fered a car­diac ar­rest.

In a stroke of luck, Mr Bar­low had only just re­ceived CPR train­ing through his work, and so knew ex­actly what to do.

As Mr Bar­low shouted out for help, he got straight to work on Mr Bevan.

“There was a lady who was a vet play­ing on the court next to us, so she came over to help too,” Mr Bevan said.

“It was handy, be­cause at least she had some knowl­edge of phys­i­ol­ogy.”

One of the club’s coaches, Bob Perry, had just fin­ished some clean­ing when he heard the shouts too.

The squash club had a de­fib­ril­la­tor, so Mr Perry grabbed it and ran straight over.

“I got the ma­chine out and put the pads on Alan’s chest. The de­fib­ril­la­tor tells you what to do so we just fol­lowed the in­struc­tions. The sec­ond time it de­liv­ered a shock Alan came round and he shouted out.”

But only mo­ments later, Mr Bevan’s heart stopped again, and the two men re­peated the process.

“The first thing I re­mem­ber af­ter that was hav­ing an an­giogram done in the hos­pi­tal, and through a foggy mist the doc­tor say­ing to me ‘Your heart’s not dam­aged, you’re very lucky’.”

In fact, it is down to the CPR that Mr Bevan ar­rived at the hos­pi­tal with a com­pletely un­dam­aged heart.

“When I ar­rived, the car­di­ol­o­gist said all the work had al­ready been done,” Mr Bevan said.

Alan, who runs a travel agency in Whitchurch, spent sev­eral weeks in hos­pi­tal after­wards.

In Fe­bru­ary, he un­der­went a quadru­ple heart by­pass op­er­a­tion to im­prove the cir­cu­la­tion of blood round his heart.

Mr Perry, who had un­der­taken first aid train­ing as part of his squash coach­ing course, said: “I’ve dealt with med­i­cal is­sues as a first aider, but noth­ing like that be­fore.

“The doc­tor came back later and said to tell us from the emer­gency crew and hos­pi­tal staff that we de­liv­ered a first class re­sponse and saved Alan’s life.

“It wasn’t un­til I was ac­tu­ally go­ing home that it struck me and I got quite emo­tional.”

It turned out a char­ity called Welsh Hearts had not only de­liv­ered the CPR train­ing to Mr Bar­low, but had also funded the de­fib­rill­tor.

Now, Mr Bevan wants to raise aware­ness of how ev­ery­one can, with the right train­ing and knowl­edge, help save a life.

He may have given up the squash now, say­ing his wife Carol had put her foot down, but he is tak­ing part in the an­nual Welsh Hearts Cardiff Santa and Elf Dash on Sun­day De­cem­ber 9.

He will be run­ning in aid Welsh Hearts.

“The more de­fib­ril­la­tors there are, the more trained peo­ple in CPR there are, the bet­ter the world will be, the more peo­ple will sur­vive on the high street,” he said.

“I will be sup­port­ing Welsh Hearts this Christ­mas as they do an amaz­ing job ev­ery day by of­fer­ing free CPR train­ing, plac­ing de­fib­ril­la­tors in com­mu­ni­ties and schools and hold­ing many heart screen­ing ses­sions.”

There are more than 8,000 outof-hos­pi­tal car­diac ar­rests ev­ery year in Wales and a car­diac ar­rest can prove fa­tal in min­utes with­out timely in­ter­ven­tion.

If a de­fib­ril­la­tor is used and ef­fec­tive CPR is per­formed within 3-5 min­utes of a car­diac ar­rest, sur­vival chances in­crease from 3% to 50%. That is a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence and more must be done to in­crease sur­vival rates.

Welsh Hearts works in part­ner­ship with the Welsh Am­bu­lance Ser­vice to in­crease ac­cess to de­fib­ril­la­tors and also to of­fer free CPR train­ing to com­mu­ni­ties all over Wales.

Now in its fifth year, the char­ity has placed more than 1,400 de­fib­ril­la­tors and trained more than 46,000 peo­ple in CPR. of

Alan Bevan is run­ning the Santa Dash for Welsh Hearts to raise aware­ness of the char­ity fol­low­ing two heart at­tacks

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