PARAMEDICS are being hailed as heroes after rendering live saving treatment to a gaelic footballer.
Justin McCaughey sustained a serious head injury while playing for his club Clogher in a Junior League game with Brocagh at the weekend.
Having difficulty in breathing, two local nurses, who had been attending the match, rendered immediate first aid before further assistance was provided by another local paramedic.
Justin was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
X-rays and scans showed that Justin had sustained a fractured skull in four places.
It had been feared that a bone fragment had lodged close to his brain and surgery may be required.
Thankfully, Justin’s condition improved throughout the subsequent days and although brain surgery was first muted, doctors now believe it won’t be necessary.
Justin is on his way to making a full recovery despite suffering from deafness in one ear.
The horror and emotion of the drama which unfolded before players and spectators at the East Tyrone venue on Friday night was relived by Clogher secretary Eugene McConnell.
The well-known Tyrone official is thankful that professional help was at hand.
“After the impact Justin was knocked out and soon started to hyperventilate.
“Two nurses rendered first aid within minutes and got Justin’s breathing regulated.
“People managed to contact another local paramedic who also rendered first aid on the pitch.
“Emotions were running very high with Justin’s brother Paul also playing in the same match.
“Luckily, there was people present who had the sense to know that Justin was seriously injured.
“If these people hadn’t been there I just don’t know if anyone could have got his breathing activated again.
“It really puts things in perspective.”
Justin’s brother Paul, who was playing on Friday evening, also appreciates that the two local nurses have considerably helped his brother.
“They were here by chance and we were very lucky. There are so many games when there is no doctor or nurse among the spectators.
“At first I thought it was just another knock and that he would get up. As it was nearly half time I started to walk towards Justin.
“As I came closer I realised there were a lot of people around him and they looked concerned.
“When I reached him he was having convulsions and I was really worried. By this time the nurses were close to him.
“After the convulsions, Justin was very disorientated. He didn’t know where he was and what was happening. The whole side of his face was blue.
“Then he became very restless and I was reassured that the nurses were here to calm him down. Then someone said a paramedic was on its way and I felt a lot better when he arrived on the pitch.
“It was a very traumatic experience for me and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me and my family.”
Justin only returned playing for his home club at the beginning of this season.
“Justin is a refined character who doesn’t like to hog the limelight,” explained Eugene.
“You hear all sorts of stories of players getting seriously injured but thankfully Justin will live to fight another day.”
At the time we went to press, Justin was still in hospital but doctors were hopeful he would be discharged before the end of the week. However this accident means Justin won’t be able to play any contact sports for at least eight months.
“I don’t kow if he will be playing again,” said his brother Paul.
“The decision is his but for the next few months he needs to recuperate a lot.”
The match, which was subsequently abandoned with just seconds remaining at the end of the first half, will be replayed later in the year.
Justin’s injury comes in a week in which two of our best known sports personalities also sustained serious injuries .
Tyrone GAA star Brain McGuigan is likely to miss the rest of the season after sustaining a broken leg while playing for his club Ardboe on Sunday.
Meanwhile, motorcycling ace Ryan Farquhar is recovering after suffering a broken arm.
Farquhar suffered the injury in practising for the Cookstown 100 races on Friday night.
The Dungannon rider collided with another 250cc machine during practice.