An off-duty South Yorkshire firefighter who helped to save the life of a football fan has been awarded a top fire service honour.
Caz Whiteman, a South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) firefighter currently based on green watch at Rotherham fire station, was in the crowd for the match at Leicester’s Champions League clash against Sevilla at King Power Stadium last year when a fellow spectator collapsed with a suspected heart attack.
Caz, who was sat nearby, immediately rushed to support pitch side first aiders and deliver cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for more than 15 minutes until he was taken to hospital by ambulance. The man, Jim Blockley, has since made a full recovery.
Now Caz has been presented with a Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation – the highest SYFR award – for displaying quick thinking and bravery to save a member of the public’s life whilst off duty. She was presented with her certificate at a formal ceremony in front of fire crews, family and friends.
Caz said at the time: “My seats were just three rows from the front of the pitch and just as the teams were starting to come out for the second half, I noticed that a spectator was in difficulty. I came down to the front of the pitch to see what I could do to help and it became clear he had suffered a heart attack and gone into cardiac arrest. Along with the pitch side medics, I cleared his airway and immediately performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.
“This is where the skills I’ve picked up from my day job really came into their own. Firefighters already have the skills and knowledge to provide effective first responder care in emergency situations, particularly at incidents were we may arrive on scene before paramedics. My actions were a natural, instinctive reaction to the situation in front of me. Anyone with the right skills and training would have done the same thing. I’m just so relieved that Jim has made it.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “It’s extremely fitting that Caz’s actions that night have been recognised with the highest honour the fire service can bestow. Her brilliant quick thinking and life saving actions really did go above and beyond the call of duty and highlight that, in some ways, a firefighter is never ‘off duty’.
“It was particularly touching for Jim and his family to attend the commendation event and to hear first hand how overwhelmed they were by what Caz had done for him.”