First aid course ended up as a real life 999 for Emsworth mechanic

LIFESAVERS From left, Penny Plimmer, Sam Matthews, Pauline Wintle
LIFESAVERS From left, Penny Plimmer, Sam Matthews, Pauline Wintle
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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WHEN Sam Matthews went on a first aid course, he was hoping to pick up a few tips.

Little did he think he’d become part of the main event.

But that’s exactly what happened when a sweet got stuck in the 29-year-old’s throat.

At first his classmates thought it was a bit of a joke, but when Sam turned purple and started foaming at the mouth they realised he was in trouble.

The mechanic said: ‘I realised that the wine gum had lodged as I tried to swallow it. I tried to clear it without making a fuss but I began to struggle so tried to excuse myself so I could sort it out.

‘The whole experience was unreal.

‘You don’t expect to go to an emergency first aid course and need emergency first aid.’

Course teacher Pauline Wintle and one of her students leapt into action and tried to dislodge the sweet – but to no avail. It had lodged in Sam’s chest low enough for him to still breathe but in a position where traditional back blows or abdominal thrusts risked completely blocking his airway.

In severe pain and struggling to breathe, Sam lay on a toilet floor while Pauline, along with Penny Plimmer, talked to him and dialled 999.

The pair looked after Sam until paramedics arrived at Brookfield Hotel in Emsworth – but thankfully before they were about to take him to hospital the sweet suddenly dislodged itself.

Sam, from Emsworth, said: ‘Pauline certainly practised what she preached. She kept me calm throughout and reassured me that it would all be fine. I’d just like to say thank you to her, Penny and the staff at the Brookfield Hotel for all their help.’

Pauline, who is director of Formation First Aid, said in all her years taking courses she had never been confronted with anything like this.

‘It was quite worrying for a while,’ she said. ‘He was in a great deal of pain but Sam was amazing.

‘After all that he’d been through, he still decided he wanted to stay and finish the course – although we did stop him joining in the choking session.

‘He has a great sense of humour and he took some ribbing from the group for the rest of the day.’