A MORAY GP has been credited with saving a life after unwittingly charting a route straight to a section of Perthshire forest where a young woman lay unconscious.
Caroline Hornby was taking part in Britain’s most prestigious orienteering event when, 15 minutes into her navigation, she came across a fellow competitor lying on the ground.
Instantly, the Lossiemouth doctor’s medical training kicked in and she was able to assess the situation and resuscitate the woman – who is now on the road to a full recovery and can thank her lucky stars a life-saver was close on her heels.
Back home in Moray, Caroline, who worked at Linkwood Medical Centre for 10 years and is known professionally as Dr Pears, said she feels privileged to have witnessed the “selflessness, organisation and teamwork” displayed by other orienteers who stopped to help out.
She hopes the situation will hammer home the importance of ‘having a go’ should others find themselves in a similar situation in everyday life.
“I thought my biggest challenge would be improving the pace at which I could accurately complete my course. However, about 15 minutes into my run a much greater challenge came into view,” she said. The woman was not moving or responding.
“She was very pale and had no pulse. I shouted and shook her shoulders but there was no change so I whacked her in the centre of her chest with my fist.
“What a relief to see an instant twitch of her lips and a flush of pink, then more movement as if she was waking up from a sleep.
“My arms relaxed; I’d been ready to start CPR to the rhythm on ‘Stayin’ Alive’,” she said, referring to the television advert for the British Heart Foundation starring the actor Vinnie Jones.
By then, another orienteer had arrived in the clearing and offered to help; running back to the start to alert organisers and activate the First Aid team.
A second doctor also taking part was the next to appear and offer assistance.
“We were now chatting to our ‘patient’. After some time with ongoing attention, warm clothes, water, jelly beans and a space blanket, she was able to walk safely to the waiting Red Cross 4x4. During that time I lost track of the number of runners that asked if we needed extra help.”
Caroline, one of 23 members of the Moravian Orienteers taking part in the Easter weekend run, said it was heartwarming to see how eager others were to help.
“In times when the media can seem full of bad news, we got a good news story with a happy ending,” she said.
“People worry about what they would do if they found somebody in need of Basic Life Support. It could happen at any time.
“For me, this story shows the importance of individuals being prepared to stop, assess the situation, ask for help and have a go,” she said.
Caroline said the situation highlighted the need for organisers to make effective first aid provision at events, as they did at the JanKjellstrom International Festival in Perthshire. The GP also praised the important work charities and organisations do to promote CPR skills.
“In a forest up a track in the highlands, people stopped, had a go and made a difference. You could too,” she said.