Sports Therapy student saves life of referee

An MSc Sports Therapy student at London Metropolitan University saved the life of a football referee when he collapsed during a match.

Date: 02/04/2012

An MSc Sports Therapy student at London Metropolitan University saved the life of a football referee when he collapsed during a match.

Quick-thinking student Gemma Clark (pictured) rushed to the aid of referee Ashley Slaughter, who was experiencing an allergic reaction to a bee sting.  

Gemma has been described as a life saver by witnesses of the incident, which took place at Whyteleafe Football Club in Surrey. 

Gemma is a physiotherapist at the club and was watching the game from the sidelines. 

She said: “The manager turned to me and said the referee was down, so I ran onto the pitch to try and help him. The linesman told me he had been stung by a bee and I realised he was going into anaphylactic shock.

“In that situation, all you can do is try and keep the patient conscious until the ambulance arrives. I put him in the recovery position, put a foil sheet over him and kept talking to him. In my head I was thinking he was going to die; it was really scary.” 

Thanks to Gemma’s efforts, Ashley survived the ordeal and has made a full recovery. He contacted her to give his thanks for what she did for him.

“It was really nice to hear from Ashley,” said Gemma. “I’m just glad to know that he is better. That’s by far the most important thing for me.”    

Gemma, from Purley in South London, has always wanted to be a sports therapist and joined London Met in September 2011 to further her skills and knowledge. 

“I wanted to do MSc Sports Therapy and the course at London Met was the best available”, she said. “I was really attracted by the facilities, particularly the Science Centre, and my course is accredited by the Society of Sports Therapists which is really good for my future career.”

Despite her humility, Gemma’s life-saving intervention has made her somewhat of a local celebrity. Her local paper ran a story about her and she was interviewed on BBC Surrey Radio.

She said: “I was invited into the studio and had to wear the headphones and everything! I was really nervous at first but the DJ was very friendly and it was a great experience. Ashley was on the show as well.

“It was a bit strange being in the newspaper, but it was nice. I think my parents are proud of me – they bought a lot of copies!”