Quick thinking saves junior footballer’s life after cardiac arrest

Liam and Adam Birch after Wallan's Under 18.5s flag last year.

By Joshua Wells

WALLAN’S Liam Birch remains in high spirits in hospital following his ‘horrifying’ cardiac arrest during an Under 19.5s clash with Rupertswood on Saturday.

The youngster remained in the care of doctors as experts worked to find a cause on Monday, while his father Adam Birch stressed the importance of defibrillator machines at every sporting ground in the country.

As assistant coach of the side, Adam watched on the sideline as a standard throw in was called by the umpires when players called to the bench ‘Birchy is knocked out’.

Then, suddenly, every player on the ground seemingly began waving their arms as trainers rushed out to the ground.

“I had a look and couldn’t see him, and then all of the players gathered around Liam,” Mr Birch told the North Central Review.

“Then, I saw a bloke out there – I know him as Tony Freeman now – and I just sprinted out there. It was the most traumatic experience of my life, to see my son staring blankly with nothing there – it was horrific.

“Tony was doing CPR when he called for the defibrillator. He shocked him once and after about 10 seconds Liam came to. But it was the longest 10 seconds of my life.”

Mr Freeman was at his daughter’s netball match when he decided to walk down toward the club rooms.

He saw a commotion on the ground and walked toward the boundary. But he knew something was off and he said he didn’t think as he sprinted on field.

“I knew he was in trouble, I had seen it before in a cricket game when a guy, Adrian, had a heart attack a few years earlier,” he said.

“He just sort of stood there, dazed, and then face planted. Not a faint, but a total body drop. So I jumped straight over and when I got there he was making gasping sounds.

“I knew it wasn’t right, I checked his pulse and began administering the CPR… then we used the defibrillator and it saved his life.”

The game was called off as Liam and Adam Birch were transported to hospital.