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Dartford chief Tony Burman’s a life saver

TONY BURMAN has described the “traumatic” moments that led to the Dartford boss giving Welling United youth player Ali Reith life-saving CPR after the youngster collapsed during a game.

Burman heaped praise on Dartford’s coaches, Welling management team Dave Shaw and John Cotton, as well as the emergency services for their swift actions.

Reith, who turned 16 on Tuesday, passed out during a pre-season friendly between the two Kent clubs on the 3G pitch next to Dartford’s Princes Park home on Sunday.

Burman says he and Dartford development coach Phil Murray knew the former Darts player was in serious trouble as soon as they saw him collapse off the ball.


When Reith showed no signs of a pulse, Burman began CPR while being guided on the phone by a 999 emergency call handler before paramedics and an air ambulance turned up.

Reith was put into an induced coma and taken to King George Hospital. He was later transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital.

On Wednesday he was brought out of his coma and posed for a photo with Murray as he looks to start his recovery.

Burman went on a first aid refresher course eight months ago but says nothing could prepare him for a harrowing experience.

Ali Reith posing with Dartford coach Paul Murray

Ali Reith in hospital with Dartford development coach Phil Murray

Burman told The NLP: “We were just watching a nice game of football on our 3G and this poor lad has just collapsed, nowhere near the ball as the game carried on.

“Myself and Phil Murray, the development manager, saw him go down and we knew he was in trouble straightaway. We ran straight on. It was awful, just awful.

“I was on the phone to the emergency services and, believe me, the lady on the other end of the phone was absolutely fantastic.

“He wasn’t breathing and Phil couldn’t find a pulse. I had to give him CPR. I went on a first aid course about three years ago and I had my renewal about eight months ago. I’m pleased I did, that’s for sure.

“I knew roughly what to do, but she guided us through the CPR. She was telling us ‘1,2,3,4…’ but on the course it was up to 30.

“There’s a defibrillator in my office so someone ran to get that. It was surreal. His mum was there, lots of parents were there – it was an awful experience.

“He was in serious trouble. I was looking to use the defibrillator and the next thing I knew one of the paramedics was next to me. They got their own defibrillator out and took over, thank God.”

Reith responded after three shocks before he was taken to hospital.

“Something drastically happened and wasn’t right, it’s a case of now finding out what it was,” Burman added. “But he was gone when we were there.

“Everyone just rallied around. Welling’s coaching staff and my own coaching staff were excellent.

“And I can’t thank the lady on the end of the phone enough as well as the emergency services and air ambulance.

“They came and took over and you’re just so proud of them.”

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