Published: 15:19, 16 December 2020
| Updated: 16:07, 16 December 2020
A hockey player’s quick thinking may have saved the life of an elderly woman who collapsed while walking her dog.
Natalie Harvey, who plays for Folkestone, was out running in Dover yesterday when she was alerted by a man calling for help.
An experienced first-aider after a decade in the surf lifesaving movement in Australia, Harvey came to the woman’s aid.
The incident happened near Dover Athletic football ground at Crabble where Harvey’s husband, Richard, is the kit manager.
After Natalie’s help, the woman was taken to hospital by air ambulance.
“I was just out for a nice leisurely run and I came across this poor lady,” said Harvey, 49.
“I was doing my usual, a couple of laps around the oval, and there’s a wood at the back and a bit of a slope which I run up and down five times.
“I was just on my first one and this guy was waving his arms and calling me over for help.
“He’d found this poor lady unconscious, her dog was jumping about and his dog was jumping about, and he was on the phone to the ambulance.
“I don’t think he quite knew what to do, so I put her into the recovery position, put a coat over her and kept her airway open until the ambulance got there.
"There wasn’t really much else I could do, as long as I kept her breathing.
"I was going through my head what I would do if she stopped because I had a bit of experience as a surf lifesaver in Australia for about a decade.
“That started coming back to me but fortunately I didn’t have to do anything else.
“I usually have masks and gloves on me, because I work in vet practice, but I didn’t have anything as I was out on a run.
“I had to improvise with my headband as a mask and I used as dog-poo bag as gloves.”
Harvey moved back to England from Australia with Richard and their daughter, Gabriella, eight, in 2014.
She was able to draw on her experience on the Aussie beaches to help the woman.
“I was in the surf lifesaving movement for about 10 years,” said Harvey.
“The competitors in surf sport had to do voluntary hours on patrol and I did that every second weekend or something like that.
“It was a lot of hours on the beach patrolling, a lot of first aid and a bit of action.
“We used to have exams every year, a lot of scenario work, and I did my bronze medallion and my advanced resuscitation certificate.
“Where we were it was pretty calm waters usually, so we didn’t have too many sea rescues.
“It was mainly quite a lot of older people living there, so it would be people collapsing on the beach or broken arms, that kind of thing.
“It wasn’t like Bondi Beach although we did spend some time down on the Gold Coast working in the surf.”
Harvey knew what to do at Crabble yesterday but there’s plenty of people who would have panicked.
She feels there should be better first-aid provision in the UK, including schools.
“If you’ve done a first-aid course it makes you think about what to do,” she said.
“If you remember about the airway, that can be crucial.
“I think it should be mandatory in schools, the kids should be taught first aid and the basics of life support because sometimes a few simple things can make a difference.”