A man has survived a brush with death after his heart stopped when a 14cm fish jumped down his throat and stopped him breathing.
The 28-year-old angler went into cardiac arrest after the Dover sole, which he had just caught, jumped into his mouth on Boscombe pier in Dorset on 5 October.
Joking with friends, he had put the fish over his mouth but it wriggled free and jumped in, blocking his throat completely.
Paramedics arrived within minutes to find the man’s friends giving him CPR after he had collapsed and stopped breathing.
“We were told he had a whole fish stuck in his windpipe,” said Martyn Box, from South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS).
The paramedics managed to restore his pulse after discovering his heart had stopped, but despite using artificial ventilation could not get oxygen into his lungs.
SWAS paramedic Matt Harrison said they knew time was very short.
“It was clear that we needed to get the fish out or this patient was not going to survive the short journey to Royal Bournemouth Hospital,” said Mr Harrison.
He used a laryngoscope to fully extend the mouth and a pair of forceps to “dislodge the tip of the tail”.
“Very carefully, so as not to break the tail off, I tried to remove it, although the fish’s barbs and gills were getting stuck on the way back up,” explained Mr Harrison.
“I was acutely aware that I only had one attempt at getting this right, as if I lost grip or a piece broke off and it slid further out of sight then there was nothing more that we could have done…
“Eventually after six attempts the fish came out in one piece and to our amazement it was a whole Dover sole, measuring approximately 14cm in length.”
The patient – who has not been named – suffered no lasting effects and has made a full recovery.