Nation mourns Phillip Hughes
IT WAS only “sheer chance” that Dr Tim Stanley was at the SCG on Tuesday.
A colleague asked the Newcastle intensive care specialist if he could swap shifts, so with the day off, he headed to the NSW-South Australia Sheffield Shield match with two of his children, Sophie and Dominic.
He couldn’t have imagined the drama that would unfold.
From putting his feet up, watching Phillip Hughes try to bat his way into the Test team, to being out on the ground, trying to save the batsman’s life.
“I saw Phil get hit and he looked like he’d taken a heavy blow,’’ said Dr Stanley, who works at the Calvary Mater Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Private Hospital.
“I, like everybody else, assumed he would rub it off, be a bit stunned and be OK, but then unfortunately he collapsed forward.”
He recognised Hughes was unconscious in the moment he fell and knew it was serious when umpires and players signalled for help.
Without thinking he made his way to the front of the Members Stand to ask if there was a doctor on hand.
He saw Hughes loaded onto the medicab and went to wait out the front of the SCG where he thought he’d be put into an ambulance.
When no one arrived, he went back to the grounds and saw Dr (John) Orchard giving Hughes mouth-to-mouth.
“Clearly that meant he was much more seriously injured than what I imagined,” Dr Stanley said.
“My first priority then was to establish that he had a pulse – and he did.
“I then asked one of the players if they could keep their hand on his pulse and let me know if it disappeared.”
Dr Stanley called for a medical bag to be brought out to the field.
“There was specialised airway equipment in the bag which was able to provide breathing and ventilation to Phil,” he said.
“It meant Dr Orchard could stop doing mouth to mouth.
“Medical teams and resuscitation work a little bit like cricket teams.
“Everyone has a role to play and it works because you’ve got a group of people doing the work, not necessarily one person on their own.”
DrOrchard, the NSW cricket team’s doctor, singled Dr Stanley out as being “unbelievably helpful” in the moments before the ambulance arrived.
Dr Stanley said he wanted to extend his deepest sympathies to the Hughes family.
“I did speak very briefly to his mother at the grounds,” he said.
“She didn’t know me and I didn’t know her.
“I couldn’t give her any real information apart from to reassure her that he was stable on his way to hospital, which is where he needed to be.
“Obviously they’re distraught and I offer my deepest sympathies and condolences to them and his teammates.”
Dr Stanley said his attention was focused on Hughes the entire time he was treating him and he didn’t want to comment on criticism levelled at Ambulance NSW for taking 23 minutes to arrive after the first triple-0 call was made.
“The time of transport, as it turned out, would have made no difference to Phil,” Dr Stanley said.
“As we later found out he’s had a very rare and freakish injury which was catastrophic.
“At the time, the equipment I had available was more than I needed to provide care for him until the ambulance arrived.”
Dr Stanley, who is also specialises in emergency medicine, said his actions were what anyone in his profession would have done.
“Most of the general public like me don’t know Phil as a person,” the father-of-four said.
“But we recognise him as a young man who’s a prodigiously talented sportsman and it’s very difficult for people to make sense of what’s a rare and tragic event that takes someone’s life at that age.
“It’s not the first tragic incident that I’ve been involved with, but working in this job doesn’t make you immune to the tragedy or the emotion of what’s really a very sad event.”
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