Teen thanks life savers who brought him back to life after 30-minute cardiac arrest

16-year-old saved with help from off-duty St John Ambulance paramedic and volunteer

Cyclist Tom cardiac arrest victim

16-year-old cyclist, Tom Reid, would like to say thank you to his life savers after he suffered a cardiac arrest on 29th March while competing for Bournemouth’s Primera Sports team at a British Cycling event in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham.

The teenager was helped by a group of people including an off-duty St John Ambulance paramedic and volunteer who performed CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) on him for 30 minutes until extra medical help arrived and Tom was then given six shocks from a defibrillator.

Family told to expect the worst

Tom was airlifted to hospital and put in a medically-induced coma. His family were told to expect the worst.

Tom’s mother, Sally, said: ‘He was in a stable condition, but the doctors told us they didn’t expect Tom to live, because his heart had been stopped for so long. They said we should get the rest of the family together to say goodbye.’

Doctors planned to wake Tom on the Tuesday morning, but everyone was surprised when his eyes flickered open and he squeezed his parents’ hands, less than 24 hours after he fell ill.

Thanks to the people who gave him life saving CPR and the teams at Nottingham and Southampton hospitals who have looked after him since, Tom, from Christchurch, has been given a new lease of life. Although his life savers have been identified, they are yet to be reunited with Tom and his family.  

‘I would love to say thank you’

‘I would dearly love to be able to say thank you to the people who helped Tom, in person, for what they did,’ Sally added.

‘If it hadn’t been for them, Tom would’ve died there.’

The cycling enthusiast has now been fitted with an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) to act as a pacemaker and correct the heart’s rhythm, and was sent home on April 17.

He was back on his bike two weeks later and is recovering well.

Alan Weir, Head of Clinical Services at St John Ambulance said: ‘There is no doubt that the prompt first aid Tom received was the difference between life and death. It takes three minutes for the brain to start to die from a lack of oxygen so if help is not received by then, it gives little chance for a person to survive a cardiac arrest.

‘The first aiders’ actions were truly heroic.’

Tom can recall very little about the incident before waking up in intensive care. He remembers he began to feel unwell and breathless, so he got off his bike, removed his helmet and sat down.

‘My son is an exceptionally lucky boy and we’re very lucky to still have him with us,’ said Sally.

‘Everyone should learn first aid’

The ‘horrific’ incident, prompted her to book first aid training with St John Ambulance for a group of family and friends, including Tom.

‘I realised that, other than phoning an ambulance to call for help, most people wouldn’t know what to do in a life or death situation like the one my son was in,’ Sally said.

‘It’s easy to think that with defibrillators around, you don’t need to learn CPR, but the people who were first on scene saved Tom’s life by jumping in and not stopping for half an hour.

‘You always hope you’ll never see anyone hurt, injured, or ill, but it’s good to have the skills to help if that happens.

‘Everyone should learn first aid, because you never know when you might find yourself in an emergency situation.’

A simple skill with an incredible impact

Learn how to save a life in the time it takes to do your weekly shop.

Book a first aid training course with St John Ambulance