Today is Restart a Heart Day. We speak to two people whose lives were saved by a stranger. Catherine Scott reports.
“The stars were definitely aligned; I feel so lucky,” said cardiac arrest patient Kevin Moore whose life was saved by two strangers.
The 65-year-old had just played a game of five-a-side football with his son Ben when he collapsed in the changing rooms at A1 Football Factory in Pontefract.
That’s when Chris Blackwell – who had learnt CPR on a first aid course six weeks earlier – and his friend Andrew Hudson, who retrieved the on-site defibrillator, which had been installed just 14 days previously, came to his rescue.
“I feel lucky that there was someone with the skills who was brave enough to do CPR, lucky that they had a defibrillator, lucky that the ambulance crew were not far away which cumulatively meant that I survived, and I feel good. I can’t thank everyone enough,” says Kevin, who lives in East Hardwick, near Pontefract, with his wife Cherry.
The grandfather-of-five has no recollection of what happened on May 14 this year, but teammates said he complained of feeling unwell and then collapsed in the changing room.
Chris and Andrew, who were booked to play five-a-side football the following hour, heard the commotion and went to help.
“Someone was calling 999 for an ambulance and when I saw Kevin who was laid on the floor unresponsive so I immediately started CPR. Andrew went for a defibrillator and we shocked him four times,” recalls Chris.
Castleford ambulance crew Lisa Jepson and Megan Reilly and South Kirby Specialist Paramedic Richard Stephenson responded to the incident and provided advanced life support, shocking him a further five times, before transporting Kevin to Leeds General Infirmary where he had two stents fitted.
Lisa said: “Chris was doing amazing CPR with rescue breaths and Andrew had been for the defibrillator. Every second counts in these situations and what they did that day was outstanding and undoubtedly gave Kevin the best possible chance of survival.”
After being discharged, Kevin suffered a set-back and had to call an ambulance when he started having shortage of breath due to fluid on his lungs – coincidentally it was Lisa and Megan who got the call.
Megan said: “His wife recognised us instantly and it was fantastic to see that he had made a good recovery. Fortunately he wasn’t back in hospital for long and is doing really well. To get an outcome like this is a great feeling.”
Chris and Andrew both received Yorkshire Ambulance Service Chief Executive Certificates of Commendations for their actions during an event at Castleford Ambulance Station when they were reunited with Kevin and his family.
Chris, who lives in Sherburn-in-Elmet, said: “When we met for the first time, it was surreal, like we had known one another for ages. We could have stayed chatting all night; we’ll definitely keep in touch.
“The incident has proved the importance of absolutely everyone learning first aid skills including CPR. I learnt the skills six weeks earlier, thinking I would never have to use them, which just proves you never know when you might have to step in to save someone’s life and surely it’s better to be equipped.”
Twenty-one-year-old Martha Hogg saved a stranger’s life by doing CPR – a skill she had learned when Yorkshire Ambulance Service visited her school on Restart a Heart Day four years ago.
Martha was working at Café Nero in Skipton during a break from studying psychology at university when a customer, Keith Procter, collapsed in cardiac arrest earlier this year. She quickly recognised the seriousness of the emergency and started performing CPR which she had learned at Skipton Girls’ High School. Thanks to her life-saving actions, 71-year-old Keith has made a great recovery and is keen to promote the importance of initiatives like Restart a Heart Day when Yorkshire Ambulance Service will visit 165 secondary schools to provide CPR training to around 40,000 young people.
Keith and his partner Kathy Connolly, who live in Ilkley, will join Martha at Skipton Girls’ High School today to speak to students taking part in this year’s Restart a Heart Day about why the CPR lesson is so important.
“For her to have done the training at school four years ago and performed CPR so well that she saved my life is quite incredible and is testimony to Martha as a person and to all those who work hard to give people these life-saving skills. Martha will always be our special angel; she should feel so proud of herself and I won’t ever be able to thank her, or the ambulance staff, enough.”
“I did the basic checks and realised Keith had suffered a cardiac arrest so my colleague Vickie called 999 and the CPR training I had received at school all clicked into place. I am so grateful to Yorkshire Ambulance Service and Skipton Girls’ High School for giving me the skills that I needed to save Keith’s life,” says Martha. Ambulance clinicians took over the life-saving efforts when they arrived on scene and used a defibrillator three times to shock his heart into a normal rhythm. He was taken to Airedale General Hospital where he had an internal defibrillator fitted.
Chrissy Blakeley, a Community Defibrillation Trainer with Yorkshire Ambulance Service, taught Martha CPR in 2015 and will be returning to the school this year to provide the training to 144 more students.
People in Yorkshire and the Humber are more likely to perform life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a stranger or family member who has collapsed and stopped breathing than anywhere else in England, according to new research by the Resuscitation Council (UK) and St John Ambulance.
71 per cent would give CPR to a stranger and 88 per cent would give the life-saving help to a family member. The national average is 64 per cent and 83 per cent respectively.
The survey results are published as Yorkshire Ambulance Service prepares to provide CPR training to 40,000 youngsters at 165 secondary schools across Yorkshire and the Humber on the sixth annual Restart a Heart Day. The survey of 2,326 people by YouGov, which asked respondents to consider what would make them more or less likely to intervene in a cardiac arrest, clearly shows the positive effect of CPR training.
To find out what’s happening across the county visit www.restartaheart.yas.nhs.uk/