A Watford fan and Bushey resident who helped save the life of a fellow Hornets supporter who went into cardiac arrest hopes that the incident will encourage others to learn CPR.
Darren Rolfe (pictured), 45, of Bushey Heath, went from supporter to superhero when he saw that a fan a few rows in front of him had collapsed during Watford’s match against Chelsea on Wednesday, December 1.
Opening up on the incident in the Graham Taylor Stand at Vicarage Road, Darren told BusheyNews: “About nine minutes into the game, I saw a commotion a couple of rows in front of me, and my initial thinking was that there were some Chelsea fans that had got into the home end.
“Then I saw the supporters calling for help and realised there was a space on the floor that people were leaving clear.”
That space was being left clear for fellow fan, Larry Brooks, who had gone into cardiac arrest. Luckily, Darren has years of first aid and CPR experience due to his work at drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres.
“After running down to Larry and speaking briefly to his friend about what had happened, I ascertained that he had gone into cardiac arrest – at that point, he was lifeless.
“I cleared his airways and began giving him CPR. Another supporter came to help me shortly after that, and around five or six minutes later, Watford and Chelsea’s doctors and physios came up with a defibrillator.”
Larry was taken to hospital and has since continued to recover. He was one of two football fans who collapsed during Premier League games that night, and his was the second confirmed case of cardiac arrest by a suffered by a supporter this season.
In a statement, Watford FC said: “Firstly, Watford Football Club wishes to reiterate its thanks to all individuals and medical agencies involved in the treatment of supporter Larry Brooks at last week’s Chelsea fixture.
“The quick thinking of supporters in the vicinity is always going to prove very important in the early moments of an incident – and this was matched by the response times of the club’s contracted in-stadium emergency medical teams.
“Watford FC produces two Medical Operations Plans, both of which are reviewed before every season by third-party medical specialists.
“It is these companies who provide on matchdays fully-qualified personnel delivering expert medical care.
“Deployed right around the stadium, these teams are fully equipped to deal with the kind of medical emergency experienced last week.
“Full reviews of all relevant policies are mandatorily undertaken after any incidents of this nature, and this process is already underway.”
Darren, who had never had to use him lifesaving skills outside of work prior to this, is urging as many people as possible to learn first-aid and CPR.
He said: “you need to be prepared for the worst case scenario, because these things do happen. I’ve offered to help train all of Watford’s stewards, but it goes beyond that.
“All clubs at every level, and general businesses, should train their staff. Don’t wait for something like this to happen before you start preparing for it.”
Darren is the chief executive and founder of Steps Together, a collection of private addiction treatment services, providing a winning combination of residential and outpatient addiction treatment and therapy services for individuals, their families and their employer.
To find out more, go to stepstogether.co.uk