A dad who almost died from cardiac arrest just before lockdown says he is ‘thanking his lucky stars’ he is alive for Father’s Day.
Paul, 60, was playing squash with his daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend and their friend on February 23 when he suddenly collapsed.
Thankfully his daughter Sophie, 22 and of Harrogate, recognised he was going into cardiac arrest and snapped into action – which was likely what saved his life.
Paul, a former journalist and features writer, said: ‘People don’t really understand, and assume it’s the sort of thing that only happens to someone else.
‘Things look a lot different as soon as you have been through it and I’ve since been blown away by number of people who do know someone who’s been in that position.
‘However, not many have keeled over 45 mins into a squash match!
‘My daughter literally parked all the emotion of seeing her dad go crashing down onto the squash court floor, and instead swung into action in a way that saved my life. People can do amazing things when they have to.’
Sophie, who works in marketing, said: ‘Dad was teaching me some skills and giving me some tips.
‘But then I served a pretty easy ball which he didn’t really go for then stepped in front of me, turned his back and just collapsed in front of me. I thought he’d hurt his ankle or was messing around at first.
‘But then he was totally unresponsive and he started choking on his tongue, so I got his tongue out of the back of his mouth and put him in the recovery position and then ran to get my partner Jake and our friend Jack, who were playing on another court.
‘They couldn’t see what had happened because there was a wall between the courts. Dad’s eyes were rolling back in his head and making a strange noise.’
Sophie ran to get a defibrillator from sports centre staff, while her boyfriend Jake did CPR and their friend Jack called 999.
Paramedics arrived shortly after, as well as Paul’s wife Joanne.
After shocking him twice with a defibrillator, medical staff said, ‘We can’t get him back.’ Then after two more shocks they said, ‘We’ve got him back.’
Sophie added: ‘It was all a bit of a haze and all I could hear were people shouting, “Not breathing.”
‘I’m pretty level headed and in control of my emotions, but I was just thinking, “This is my dad,” and I thought that this was the end because he was shocked four times before he started to breathe.’
Paul, who previously lived in Australia and Dubai, was discharged from hospital on March 6. He said: ‘When you’ve had a glimpse of your own mortality, you realise the things you take for granted.
‘I saw first-hand how exceptional our NHS is when it comes to critical care and when a medical team needs to move quickly and effectively.
‘I had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) implanted into my chest. I’m not complaining as the bump is a daily reminder of how lucky I am, and I need to programme my mind to understand that if anything goes wrong again I’ve got a device that will save me.
‘I’ve also realised that even though what happened was a massive blow, I was very lucky and it’s time to make the second chance count. So I’ve resigned my main board position, hung up the navy suits and packed away the City shirts and ties.
‘I’ve gone back to my roots and am loving telling everyone that I’m a writer once again. It’s now about quality of life and I’m determined to make sure the quality goes through the roof. Having said that, I’ve cancelled all future squash bookings!’
Sophie concluded: ‘We were told our quick actions and Jake’s CPR kept the oxygen getting to his brain and I am so thankful that he has been able to make a good recovery and hasn’t suffered any residual damage.
‘Father’s Day will be extra special and I think it will really hit me that dad may not have been here if we hadn’t done what we did and if everyone hadn’t played their part.
‘I haven’t really thought about it before but on Father’s Day I think it will really sink in and bring it home. It’s a day where we celebrate our dads and I’m so lucky that I still have mine. Things could have been so different.’
The British Heart Foundation is helping fund lifesaving research into heart and circulatory conditions and their risk factors. You can support this by having your loved one’s name engraved on a ‘heart of steel’ this Father’s Day.
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