A FOOTBALL fan has thanked an air ambulance crew for bringing him back to life after his heart and breathing stopped when he collapsed on the way back from a match.

Paramedic Stuart Thompson and doctor Dion Arbid met 74-year-old Eddie Porritt for the first time yesterday since the pair, who volunteer for the Great North Air Ambulance, saved the pensioner’s life last year.

Mr Porritt began feeling unwell when he was travelling back to his home in Aycliffe Village, County Durham, from the Darlington versus Mansfield Town match on September 3 with his son and daughter-in-law, Dennis and Mandy.

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Mr Porritt Jr, 48, said: “As we were going down the A66, I noticed he was falling asleep and not responding to me. His breathing was wheezy and we knew we wouldn’t get to the hospital in time.

“Mandy, who’s a registered nurse, told me to pull over into a layby and we dialled 999.”

Mrs Porritt, 46, realised her father-in-law’s vital signs were failing and treated him while they waited for the ambulance.

After the ambulance arrived, the road was closed to allow the air ambulance helicopter to land. Mrs Porritt said: “It was quite dramatic – we were just trying not to panic.”

Mr Thompson and Mr Arbid treated Mr Porritt at the side of the road, stablising and sedating him within 15 minutes, before transporting him to The James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, inside six minutes.

Mr Thompson said: “When we arrived, he was not breathing and there was no heartbeat.

We managed to restart his heart and get him breathing again, before the doctor gave him anaesthetic to sedate him. We then took him to James Cook.

“It was a very serious situation.

For someone to have a cardiac arrest out of hospital, it is very rare for them to recover from that – there is about a two per cent chance.”

The air ambulance, which has three helicopters covering the north of England, gets no Government funding and is totally reliant on voluntary contributions.

Mr Porritt Sr’s wife, Janet, 71, told The Northern Echo: “How do you thank someone for saving your husband’s life? It is very hard to put into words the gratitude I feel.”

Mr Porritt Jr added: “It is nice to come here and say thank you properly. It is very important that people raise funds for the Great North Air Ambulance.

“They provide a vital service – and you never know when you might need it.”