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How I saved cardiac car crash casualty

Tim Tunks

When the car in front of him swerved off the road and crashed into a tree, Tim Tunks didn’t hesitate to help – because he knew he could count on his first aid training.

The 33-year-old was driving home from work in Berkshire when the terrifying incident occurred.

Stopping immediately, he flagged down two passing motorists and asked them to call an ambulance. Then he checked on the driver.

Tim recalled: “The man started to go very grey in the face and his eyes glazed over. At that point, I knew there was something very wrong with him. It was like he was there, but wasn’t there.”

Smoking car

Tim, who has received first aid training at work from the British Red Cross, listened to see if the casualty was breathing.

But when smoke started to appear from the dashboard, the trio knew they had to act quickly. Removing the key from the ignition, they lifted the driver out of the car.

Tim said: “The guy went floppy and heavy, so I lowered him gently on to my knees to perform the airway, breathing and circulation checks again. But there was nothing, so we started giving him CPR.”

Instinctive response

As the minutes ticked by, the three men continued with their chest compressions, fighting to save the man’s life.

It was only when paramedics arrived and used a defibrillator to restart his heart that the pressure was finally lifted. The casualty was then rushed by air ambulance crew to hospital in Oxford.

Later, Tim said: “I didn’t even have time to think. Before I knew it, I was at the driver’s side helping him. Altogether I was at the scene for an hour and 40 minutes, but it went by in a flash.”

Life-saving skills

Looking back, Tim credits his Red Cross first aid course with giving him the confidence to act so quickly and effectively.

He said: “I’m so pleased that I’d received first aid training at work – little did I know I’d be putting it to such good use.”

Happily, the casualty has since recovered and is now back at home after having a heart pacemaker fitted. He has sent Tim an email thanking him for saving his life.

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