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Staff nominated for award after first aid knowledge saved coach’s life

Martin Bews (Operations Manager) with Keith Ridley (Athletic Coach) at the outdoor Athletic Track at Meadowbank Sports Centre (Neil Hanna/PA)
Martin Bews (Operations Manager) with Keith Ridley (Athletic Coach) at the outdoor Athletic Track at Meadowbank Sports Centre (Neil Hanna/PA)

Sports centre staff have been nominated for an award after their quick thinking and knowledge of first aid saved a man’s life when he suddenly collapsed following a cardiac arrest.

Athletics coach Keith Ridley, 70, suffered a cardiac arrest on the field at the Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh in April.

Nearby medical students and Meadowbank staff provided life-saving first aid which ultimately saved Mr Ridley’s life.

Mr Ridley had no previous health concerns and lived an active lifestyle.

He had just completed a series of six 200 metre sprints and was chatting to a colleague before he suddenly collapsed.

Meadowbank operations manager, Martin Bews, gave Mr Ridley cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and administered two shocks from the onsite defibrillator.

Mr Ridley was unconscious for around 11 minutes while staff worked tirelessly to save his life.

Keith Ridley at the outdoor Athletic Track at Meadowbank Sports Centre (Neil Hanna/PA)

Both men reunited recently as part of a campaign by the St Andrew’s First Aid charity to recognise the every day heroes whose actions have saved lives.

The team at Meadowbank have been nominated for a first aid hero award at the charity’s annual awards.

Mr Ridley said: “There were no warning signs at all. I was tired from my training, but this was nothing unusual, I didn’t feel any chest pains or anything out of the ordinary.

“It all happened so quickly, and I am very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time. Having the medical students and staff from Meadowbank there to immediately step in and deliver CPR, saved my life.

“My experience has really highlighted that doing nothing isn’t an option in these situations. If they hadn’t stepped in, I would have lost my life and I am so grateful to those involved with helping me that evening.

“I think it also highlights the importance of having defibrillators available to be accessed by the public, as this was vital to the team who were saving me.

“Words really can’t explain how grateful I am that they were there and knew how to respond.

“For me, it’s really highlighted the importance of first aid training – I know that those within the sporting community are regularly trained – but it did make me think what if this had happened when I was somewhere else and wasn’t around people who knew what they were doing.

“It’s scary to think like that and further emphasises the need for training across the country.”

Mr Bews delivered CPR to Mr Ridley for around nine minutes, and said: “It’s amazing really to think you’ve played a part in saving someone’s life.

“You never ever think something like this will happen to you and it really puts it into perspective just how important it is that you not only know what to do but remember to actually do it and not panic.

“At the time, I just went into help mode.

“It took a good few days for what had actually happened to really sink in. When we received a follow up call to let us know Keith was doing well, that’s when the relief sank in, and I felt an immense feeling of pride that I had been able to play a part in saving someone’s life.

“I used to work in the same building as Keith’s son, so for me there was a personal connection too, which made the stark reality of how it could have ended even more hard-hitting. I’m just so glad that I, and the rest of the team involved, were able to step in immediately and provide the first aid that was needed to keep Keith alive.”

Martin Bews saved Keith Ridley’s life after he had a cardiac arrest at the Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh (Neil Hanna/PA)

Now, Mr Ridley is keen to ensure that those who have helped in situations like his are recognised for their actions.

St Andrew’s First Aid’s annual awards ceremony recognises outstanding groups and individuals who have performed life-saving acts across Scotland.

Nominations for the awards are open now and close on December 15.

An awards ceremony will take place in Glasgow on March 29, 2024.

Stuart Callison, chief executive of St Andrew’s First Aid, said: “Each year we are overwhelmed with the number of courageous people across Scotland, who have stepped up and stepped in during emergency situations like Keith’s.

“We know all too well that had Keith not been in the presence of a team of first aid trained individuals, the outcome of his story could have been drastically different.

“We want to encourage those who have saved a life or know of someone who has displayed first aid excellence, to come forward and nominate for this year’s awards, to ensure these heroes get the true recognition they deserve.”