Mum of four saved by St John Ambulance volunteer after
suffering cardiac arrest
Carmen Green has been reunited with the man who stepped in to
help when she suffered a cardiac arrest
Carmen, 42, suffered a cardiac arrest on her way to work and
would have died if it hadn’t been for the actions of a complete
stranger who stepped in and helped save her life.
Even though she was normally a fit and active mum of four,
Carmen, from Milton Keynes, had been feeling unwell in the weeks
leading up to the day when her heart suddenly stopped beating.
'I’d climbed the three Welsh peaks in May, but since then we’d
had some family bereavement and initially I thought that my extreme
tiredness was down to the stress and grief. What I didn’t know was
that I actually had a benign tumour on my parathyroid which was
causing hypocalcaemia – where the body draws too much calcium from
your bones into the blood.'
Carmen’s husband Andrew, 38, was driving her to work when she
told him she was feeling unwell and collapsed sideways on to
Andrew noticed her lips turning blue so he quickly pulled the
car over to the side of the road.
'He managed to get me out and phoned the emergency
First aid when it really counts
While waiting for the ambulance Andrew, who had learned
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at school during rugby coaching
sessions, started chest compressions.
Fortunately, St John Ambulance volunteer Justin Crook stopped
his car and offered to help.
'As I drove past I looked back and I could see a woman lying on
the ground. It didn’t look right so I parked my car in the next
road and ran back to them,' says Justin, 37, a St John Ambulance
'I asked the normal questions such as history of heart attack
and whether she was taking any medication. Then I started CPR.'
If someone has stopped breathing and is unconscious, CPR – which
involves mouth-to-mouth breaths and chest compressions – is used to
keep the blood pumping and protect the organs.
After Justin had performed several cycles, a first response car
with two paramedics arrived. Justin was asked to continue doing CPR
while the paramedics worked around him, getting a defibrillator,
airways, oxygen and the rest of the resuscitation equipment
The medics put a device called a Lucas Chest Compression System
on to Carmen which performs CPR at exactly the right speed and to
the precise depth required.
'My consultant told me that I was lucky to be alive'
Electric shocks were then delivered by a defibrillator to
restart her heart and medication administered.
At hospital, doctors discovered Carmen had a benign tumour on
the parathyroid gland in her neck.
'The next thing I knew it was around two months later and I woke
up after being in a medically induced coma,' says Carmen, who spent
four and a half months in hospital and was only discharged in late
January following extensive treatment and recuperation.
'My consultant told me that I was lucky to be alive and I owe a
huge thank you to those who gave me CPR and treated me in those
critical minutes after my heart stopped.
'Without my husband, Justin and the paramedics’ efforts, I
wouldn’t be here.'
In England the percentage of people who survive an
out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is just 8.5, compared with Norway
where it is 25 per cent.
According to a joint report by the British Heart Foundation, the
Resuscitation Council and NHS England, if more bystanders had the
confidence to call 999 quickly and be able to deliver effective CPR
until the emergency services arrive then these rates would
We’re encouraging people to sign up to one of the thousands of
first aid training programmes across the country and learn the
basic skills needed to save a life.
‘My children still have a mum’
Carmen and her family were reunited with Justin in June so that
she could thank him in person. 'It’s quite hard to understand what
happened and to think that a complete stranger just stopped to help
me,' she says. 'Others may have just driven by but Justin’s
split-second decision means my husband still has a wife and my
children still have a mum.
'Justin’s first aid knowledge kept me alive until help arrived.
I can’t thank him enough.
'I’d also urge others to learn first aid as you never know when
you might need it.
'People don’t realise how much a difference it can make, but the
impact it can have is huge – not only on the patient but for their
Sign up for a first aid
training course and make sure you have the skills to save a