Belfast Telegraph

Football coach collapses during Co Down game - life-saving medics praised

Retired paramedic and two nurses hailed for saving Gavin Halliday's life.

Gavin Halliday is now awaiting tests in Royal Victoria Hospital.
Gavin Halliday is now awaiting tests in Royal Victoria Hospital.

By Eimear McGovern

Medics who brought "back to life" a football coach who collapsed on the sidelines of a game after suffering a massive cardiac arrest have been praised.

With just 15 minutes to go in Saturday's match between Donaghdee FC and their rivals Portavogie FC, Donaghadee FC coach Gary Halliday keeled over.

Gavin Halliday (far right) just before the match started on Saturday.
Gavin Halliday (far right) just before the match started on Saturday.

Jamie Byson, who is manager of Donaghdee, said he held Mr Halliday's hand as he lay unconscious.

"I was sitting beside him holding his hand and the light slipped from his eyes and he was dead," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Thankfully there was a retired paramedic watching who was supporting Portavogie and two young nurses who came over and they managed to perform CPR for I don't know how long.

"They brought him back to life. He had been unconscious for a minute and a half," said Mr Bryson.

The life-saving medics were retired paramedic Peter Ross and nurses Anna Coyle and Claire McCormick.

Gavin Halliday is the coach at Donaghadee FC, where Jamie Bryson is the manager.
Gavin Halliday is the coach at Donaghadee FC, where Jamie Bryson is the manager.

"The paramedic broke all of Gary's ribs - it just shows the amount of effort he had to put into it. He managed to keep his heart alive until the defibrillator arrived. At Portavogie there were people trained on how to use it.

"The machine said to shock him a number of times."

Mr Halliday was taken first to the Ulster Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital on Saturday night.

The father of Josh, Adam and Erin is now awaiting tests to assess the severity of the damage.

Mr Bryson said there was a lot of confusion when Mr Halliday first collapsed but that he wants to thank everyone who helped the coach.

"On behalf of the Donaghadee Football club, but also on a personal level, I want to thank everyone at Portavogie but especially retired paramedic Peter Ross and nurses Anna Coyle and Claire McCormick and others who we haven’t yet been able to identify who literally saved Gary’s life.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and indeed Gary at this time."

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