Non-League player Alasan Ann has relived the moment he helped save an opponent’s life by administering CPR and using a defibrillator last weekend – and has called the moment “a wake-up call” for all clubs.
The AFC Dunstable defender – who works full-time as a senior physiotherapist at Watford General Hospital – had been substituted off in the second half of the Southern League Division One match against Hertford Town last Saturday.
But the 28-year-old was called into action when opposition player Potchu Mendes Calucane suffered a cardiac arrest during the match, which was abandoned.
“Potch went down, but the way he went down, I thought he was just injured,” he told Sky Sports.
“Their physio Paige Simms ran over and then our physio Nikini Jayakody was called over as well. Niki is great so I don’t get involved usually. I don’t know if it was instinct, but something in my head said I needed to go over, so I ran over to see if they needed help.
“When I got there, he was in the recovery position and gasping for air. They were trying to get him to talk and cool him down, but I realised he wasn’t breathing and we put him on his back so we could get his jaw open and his airway open.
“As I did that, I was calling his name and he wasn’t answering. He still had a pulse, but it was nowhere near as strong as usual. Then I put my ear to his mouth to listen to his breathing and to see if his chest was rising. It feels like a blur from there.
“I said to Paige and Niki to get the defibrillator, but we were at the point where we had his top off and I started doing CPR and mouth-to-mouth. By that time, we had delegated people to call the ambulance.
“Someone brought the defib back, we popped it on and gave him one shock and that’s when he started to come back. We started giving him CPR again until the ambulance came and took over. He was in and out of it, but we managed to keep him there with us.
“The ambulance did what they had to do, the air ambulance came and then I just handed it over and sat down for a little bit with the adrenaline running through my head. I have since has to ask one of the physios what actually happened.
“Luckily we had the defib on the bench – if that wasn’t there, I think it would have been a different story.”
Ann – who dropped into non-League after being released by Luton after his first year as a professional in 2013 – graduated from York St John University with a degree in physical therapy in 2020.
He spent his first two years as a qualified physiotherapist at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, where refresher first aid courses were commonplace, though he admits he did not think there would be a time when he had to put the skills into practice.
“Every year you get a refresher course but since I’ve done it, I’ve never had to use it – and I never thought I would,” he said.
“Every time I’ve done it, it has been on dummies in a room full of people. Sometimes you think it’s just a box-ticking exercise. It was crazy to actually do it in that moment.”
He has called upon the wider non-League community to invest in the correct equipment and skills to ensure that, if similar situations do arise in future, they are suitably placed to do whatever they can to save a life.
He added: “As a player, you never ask about the medical situation. You turn up, play and then have a drink with your mates. That process of whether there’s a defib or the medical bag is properly equipped, from a player’s point of view, you never check.
“This is a wake-up call for everyone, really. It’s time that these things started being checked and more people are first aid trained as well, just in terms of knowing the basic stuff of what to do.
“I spoke to Potch on Monday. He dropped me a message on Twitter and tried to call me when I was at work on Tuesday so I missed him, but he’s probably busy trying to recover anyway. He just needs to take his time as he’s probably traumatised, as are his family.”