Coaches often tell their players to leave it all out on the field before a big game, but 1 Australian coach had no idea just how seriously his teenage son would do just that during an important championship game.
In early May 2018, an Australian football team was playing hard during their final game just as their coach had told them to. During the 3rd quarter, however, the coach watched in horror as his son was involved in a heart-stopping accident. Thankfully, a perfect stranger just happened to be in the right place at the right time…
Australian Football League
In early May 2018, 19-year-old Liam Birch and his dad, Adam Birch, from Wallan, Victoria, which is about 30 miles outside of Melbourne, Australia, were preparing for the biggest game of the Australian rules football season.
Liam, a player for the Wallan Magpies, and his dad, a coach for the under-19 team, had worked hard all season, and the hard work had paid off so far. All that was left to do was make it through the finals, which were against grand finalists Rupertswood…
The Reigning Champs
The final match was scheduled for Saturday, May 2, 2018, and on the morning of the big game, Liam (center) and the rest of his family could only think about what would happen in just a few hours. However, the Wallan Magpies were the reigning champions, so they were confident that the team would play well.
Preparing For Battle
Adam made sure his son was as prepared for the game as possible by making sure Liam had a good breakfast, drank plenty of fluids, and had a good stretch that afternoon. Soon after, the family headed over to the Greenhill Reserve, where the game was being held…
The Game Begins
Once they arrived, Liam and the rest of the team got warmed up and practiced a few drills so they were ready to play at their best. Shortly after, the highly anticipated game started. Liam was out on the field and Adam was coaching from the sideline; just as he had done since Liam’s football career started when he was 8 years old.
A Lot On The Line
As the game began, the team was working hard to defend against their opponents while also getting as many points as they could. Neither the players or the coaches, however, had a clue that much more was at stake than the results of the game…
The 3rd Quarter
The Australian Football League consists of 4 quarters that are a minimum of 20 minutes long. By the third quarter, both teams were starting to show signs of fatigue. Liam, on the other hand, started to feel unwell and it wasn’t just because he was tired.
A Strange Sensation
During that third quarter, Liam became overwhelmed with dizziness, which he had never experienced before. In fact, Liam was so dizzy that he couldn’t even pay attention when the ball was being thrown in from the sideline…
The Last Memory
“All I remember leading up to it was feeling really light-headed and my eyesight going all weird,” said Liam, who had no idea what was going on. The next moment, Liam was completely unconscious and his body collapsed to the ground.
Right Place At The Right Time
Thankfully, a stranger was in the right place at the right time and saw the very moment Liam collapsed on the field. The stranger, Tony Freeman, had been watching his daughter play in her netball game. When it was over, he started walking to his car to leave…
To get to the exit, Tony, who is a teacher, had to walk past the football game. As he walked by, he couldn’t help but notice Liam because he was standing off by himself on the field while everyone else was running for the ball.
Jumping Into Action
“He was standing by himself and just dropped to the ground,” Tony said about the moment Liam collapsed on the field. “I knew straight away it was something serious. He wasn’t in a good way at all.” Without hesitating, Tony ran out on to the field to help…
The Recovery Position
At first, Tony thought Liam had fainted from overexertion, but as he got closer, he got the feeling that something more serious was happening as it appeared the 19-year-old’s body was seizing up. “I ran over and put him in recovery position,” Tony said.
A Chilling Realization
“He started to have a fit so I checked his pulse,” said Tony, who is trained in CPR. At that moment, Tony realized what was really going on with the player; something that should have been impossible for someone as young as Liam…
A Heart Attack At 19
“There was no pulse…no oxygen going in,” Tony said. Liam had a heart attack and his heart had completely stopped beating. “I knew this boy had no heartbeat so I knew that if he didn’t get CPR he was going to die,” Tony added.
“I rolled him over and started to perform CPR while club officials rushed to get a defibrillator and call for an ambulance,” said Tony. Meanwhile, Liam’s dad frantically ran out on to the field to his son. “When I saw Liam being worked on I was in shock, it was just terrifying,” Adam said…
A Shocking Miracle
Liam started turning blue and Tony knew CPR wasn’t going to be enough. Thankfully, someone brought over a defibrillator just in time and Tony was able to deliver a shock to Liam’s heart. After just 1 shock, Liam miraculously gained consciousness.
A Grateful Father
“To see him go from limp to being up and alive was amazing,” said Tony. An ambulance arrived within 10 minutes and rushed the 19-year-old off to the Northern Hospital nearby to make sure he was stable and to monitor his heart. “Once the paramedics came I gave Tony a big hug and kiss,” Adam said…
The Teen’s Hero
“Last thing I remember was the ball getting thrown in and just getting dizzy in the head and that’s all I remember,” said Liam, who was kept overnight as doctors are trying to determine why he had a heart attack. The teen is feeling much better already, and he and his family just want to thank Tony for knowing exactly what to do. “I can’t thank him enough,” Liam said. “Tony saved my life. If he wasn’t there I wouldn’t be here today. He’s my hero.”
A Lifesaving Course
“He’s basically our hero. He saved our son’s life,” Adam said. Tony, however, said he “just did what anyone else with CPR training would do.” Now, Tony is encouraging everyone to take a CPR course. “My message to the community is to do CPR training. It could save someone’s life.”