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Message of thanks to Steve Snelling

Dennis North - 28th November 2010

Message of thanks to Steve Snelling On Wednesday 24th November Woking Academy were playing Boreham Wood in the Second Round of the Football Conference Youth League Cup, Woking were winning 1-0 and there was one minute and twenty-three seconds left in the second period of extra time when Sammy Charles fell heavily and caught a blow to his chest on an opponents knee.

What transpired thereafter reminded us all of the inherent risks of playing any contact sport and how fortunate we are to have Steve Snelling (pictured) as our resident physio someone who is also a community first responder for the local ambulance service and as such carries advanced life saving equipment in his vehicle.

Steve's (layman's) medical notes:

On Wednesday 24th November I attended a Woking Academy cup game taking place at Brookwood Country Park, the game went into extra time – approximately 1 minute prior to the added extra 30 seconds 18 year old Sammy Charles was involved in a collision with an opponent which involved a significant blow to the centre of his chest, the sort of blow that you would normally expect to cause winding.

Whilst trying to ascertain where his pain was and the exact nature of the pain he was able with difficulty (due to shortness of breath), to indicate he had right sided chest pain and couldn’t breath properly.

Whilst trying to deal with Sammy’s presenting problem his condition deteriorated rapidly.

Within 15 – 20 seconds of starting to talk with Sammy he began to lose consciousness to the extent that within 10 seconds there was no response from him whatsoever – his GCS which ranges from 15 (fully alert) to the lowest score of 3 (Unresponsive) Sammy's scale was 3.

Over the following 12 seconds I was unable to detect any breathing or attempt to breath by Sammy and we commenced mouth to mouth resuscitation and CPR.

The ambulance service were called as Sammy lost consciousness, I continued with resuscitation whilst others retrieved further equipment from my vehicle.

Within minutes of Sammy stopping breathing we were able to have him connected to an oxygen supply using a resuscitation face mask.

We continued with the CPR procedures for approximately another 8 minutes during which Sammy had a full fit, shortly after this fit Sammy suddenly took a massive spontaneous gasp of air and started breathing shallowly on his own.

He was kept on the oxygen supply as he was placed in the recovery position where he regained partial consciousness to the extent we were able to carry out a meaning full conversation with him and he was able to tell us about numbness he was feeling in all his limbs.

In view of the seriousness of the situation the ambulance service sent two crews to manage the incident, once stabilised in the back of the ambulance Sammy was transferred to the resuscitation area in the accident and emergency centre of the Royal Surrey County Hospital at Guildford where it was necessary to raise his body temperature as he had become hypothermic and also to administer fluids via an intravenous drip.

At the Royal Surrey Sammy got top quality treatment from a team of Nurses, Trauma Specialists, the A&E consultant and the medical team specialising in cardiac conditions, whilst I was there he underwent numerous tests and was detained over night for continuous monitoring prior to being released the following morning.

I know from Sammy that the initial tests have not revealed anything to raise major concerns in relation to his heart or lungs and there is every reason to believe he will be back playing football sooner rather than later.

The exact reason for Sammy’s breathing stopping is not clear and may never become so but there is the possibility that the blow to his chest disrupted the electrical supply to his heart or irritated the sack that surrounds the heart.

'Whilst everyone was great I couldn’t have done what I did without the help of those around me including Dennis North who helped assemble the oxygen equipment and to Josh Watkins – a youth player who was able to open up the automatic external defibrillator and get it ready for me whilst I continued with the CPR'.

'I was pleased that Sammy was well enough to come to Saturday's game and to see him smiling and back amongst his team mates, where he belongs'.

- Steve Snelling


Sammy will undergo a series of tests before he can start playing or training again but please bear in mind both Sammy and his family have gone through an extremely traumatic time and it is probably not good for Sammy or his family to keep dwelling on an incident which could have had a much different outcome, therefore if there are any questions they should be directed to Steve Snelling, Dennis North or Matt Howard.

Those who were present have nothing but admiration for the manner in which Steve Snelling handled this very stressful situation and Sammy his family and the Club wish to offer our deepest and sincerest thanks to Steve for his level of professional care in handling what was in effect a life threatening situation.
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