Robert Mathew, the Hinton cricketer who collapsed on the field with a severe heart attack on Saturday has shown his first major sign of improvement.
“I’ve just come out of the ward and he was responding to the nurse’s words,” team mate and best friend Chris Parkinson said. “She asked Bob to open his eyes and he did, and he was able to wiggle his toes when she asked.
“He has a long way to go but it’s really encouraging.”
The collective efforts of the two sides and a pool lifeguard helped save Mr Mathew who was fielding in a Maitland & District Cricket Association C-grade game against Seaham at Lakeside Sports Complex near Grahamstown Dam.
Players from the two teams, Hinton and Seaham cricket clubs, rushed to the 52-year-old’s aid and began immediate CPR.
Their efforts, along with a lifeguard from nearby Lakeside Leisure Centre who used the pool’s defibrillator, were instrumental in keeping the father of four alive before paramedics arrived.
Mr Parkinson, was one of the first to administer first-aid.
“Bob and I have known each other for 25 years,” he said. “I was standing at cover and Bob was at fine leg, and some of the scorers just yelled out.
“We rolled him over [and] it was obvious there was something wrong. He started to vomit and not breathe properly. When he went blue, I just panicked ... I just panicked. There was a couple of other guys who took over.”
“We got to him as quick as we could,” Hinton Cricket Club secretary Adam Cooper said. “He was in a real bad way. We got onto triple zero; a young bloke from Seaham called triple zero and had the operator there telling us what to do.”
Quick-thinking from one of the cricketers made for a mad dash down to the nearby pool, where Belgravia Leisure lifeguard Stephen Amess was preparing to close for the day.
“I was packing up and a man came running in saying ‘I need a defib, I need a defib’, so we jumped in his car and went down to the incident,” Mr Amess said.
“When I saw they were already doing compressions, I knew I’d be putting my training into a real-life situation.”
Mr Amess, a career-lifeguard, ran the automatic defibrillator process with the cricketers’ assistance.
Paramedics arrived on the scene soon after along with the helicopter medical staff. Mr Mathew was taken by road to John Hunter Hospital where he remains in intensive care in an induced coma.
However, Hinton’s players have told how the incident could have been far worse, had it not been for a lucky string of events.
“We were supposed to play at Seaham, that’s the first piece of luck,” best mate Chris Parkinson said of the ground change that occurred a few days beforehand.
“The second piece of luck is someone to have the coolness of head to go: ‘there’s a defibrillator right there, we can see the pool’, and then the lifeguard coming … so there’s more luck.
“None of that would have happened at Seaham. And then the helicopter being on its way back from another job, it landed two minutes after the ambulance got there.
“There’s a lot of lucky things that have happened.”
Before the game, Mr Mathew even put his hand up to sit-out as the side had too many players. Had he done so and left early, it is likely he would have been on his own when the attack occurred.
A GoFundMe page titled ‘Raise a glass for Bobby’ has also been established to help with Mr Mathew’s recovery.