A Bournemouth University BA (Hons) Adult Nursing student on work placement was recently involved in one of the most bizarre and widely publicised incidents of recent times.
Samantha Geary was one of the first on the scene at Boscombe Pier for the dramatic incident where a fisherman nearly died after accidentally swallowing a Dover sole. Her work placement with South Western Ambulance Service meant that she was on the emergency front line, accompanying paramedic Matt Harrison.
The story made headline news across the world featuring in the likes of USA Today, Fox News and even Radio New Zealand.
Samantha said: ““It was about 11pm on 5 October when we received the call. The only information we got was that it was a young male and that the location was halfway along Boscombe Pier – and we were just down the road from there. So the blue lights go on, we wizz around and get there.
“It was really dark when we got to there but we couldn’t really see anyone. Then we heard a voice through the gate - he said ‘we’re over here!’ So we grabbed all the stuff from the boot of the car and made a run for it. He literally was half dead, lying down halfway across the pier; his friends were giving him CPR at the time.”
Samantha and Matt arrived in the nick of time. Angler Sam Quilliam, 28, was having a heart attack after swallowing a fish which had wriggled into his mouth as he kissed it - before intending to the throw it back in the water.
Samantha continues: “He was blue when we got there. He barely had a pulse. We knew there was an obstruction so Matt was getting the line in and I was just trying to get some air into him; using the mask and the bag. Matt realised that might not make it to hospital because of the amount of time that’s he’d gone without oxygen, so that’s when he suctioned and had a good look and managed to get the fish out. It felt like it took forever.”
With Sam now in an ambulance and Bournemouth Hospital A&E on standby, Matt Harrison finally managed to use forceps to remove the obstructive flatfish, saving Sam’s life in the process. By the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital, he was responding to questions and was on his way to a full recovery.
Emotional scenes greeted them as the ambulance arrived at A&E.
Samantha said: “It was amazing – I got quite choked up. His best friend Steve wanted to see him so we took him to resuscitation to say hello. He said he just wanted to give him a hug. Me and Matt watched them have their moment together, have their hug. It was just so lovely. All of us during the debrief in the ambulance afterwards, we just couldn’t believe it. Even for everyone else who was quite experienced; and I wasn’t; - even they were just absolutely like ‘oh my god! That could have been really, really bad!’”
So has having experienced something so potentially traumatising at close quarters put Samantha off urgent care work?
“No! I thought I was destined for District Nursing as a career but I have to say doing the urgent care stuff has changed things for me. It has changed my view on future employment…”
Sadly, the fish didn’t make it….