Two quick-thinking rugby club officials have told how they leapt into action when a teenage player broke his neck.
Jarrovians Colts team manager Suzanne Etchells and RFC first aider Eleanor Peggie, from South Shields, were both delighted when rugby player Karl Mann came with a bunch of flowers to thank them for their efforts.
The Hartlepool RFC Under-17s player was severely injured in a collapsed scrum against Jarrovians Colts RFC in Hartlepool on November 4.
The accident happened in the last five minutes of the match, leaving 16-year-old Karl motionless on the ground.
Suzanne, 49, and Eleanor, 20, rushed over to help Karl, who was unable to move anything other than his right arm.
Eleanor, a medical student at Newcastle University, phoned an ambulance and she and Suzanne held Karl’s to ensure it didn’t move.
Karl, from Dyke House, Hartlepool, was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital of North Tees, where he underwent an X-ray and a CT scan, which found that he has suffered a spinal injury.
Suzanne said: “It was quite frightening. If we hadn’t mobilised his neck he might not be here today. “One disc has slipped over the top of his other and was pressing on his spinal cord.
“We were told that if he had sat up he could have severed it and that could have been catastrophic.
“We made sure he didn’t move until he was placed on a spinal board.”
At the hospital, doctors found that he had fractured two vertebrae in his neck, with the C4 protruding over the C5, putting pressure on his spinal cord.
He was transferred to the spinal unit at the James Cook University Hospital and operated on the next morning.
He now has had two titanium plates in his neck and is undergoing physiotherapy.
Eleanor said: “It’s scary to think what potentially could have happened.
“But it was lovely to see him afterwards. He came walking in and was so positive.”
Although Karl’s playing career is over, he has decided to take up coaching and refereeing.
Dad Tony Mann, 51, said his son had been ‘very lucky,’ adding: “The two first aiders were absolutely fabulous.”
A North East Ambulance spokeswoman said: “We were called at 2.23pm on November 4 to a patient injured at Hartlepool RFC. “We despatched a double-crewed ambulance and took one patient to the University Hospital of North Tees.”