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David's Story

A stranger's speedy reaction to David's heart attack and cardiac arrest saved his life.

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The day started like any other

When Alex heard an emergency over the internal radio at work, he knew he didn’t have time to think twice. His speedy response to David’s cardiac arrest saved his life.

The day started normally for David. With a demanding job in London’s financial district, he liked to rise early to enjoy the peace and quiet of the city’s empty streets. On the day that would change his life forever, he decided to go for a swim.

“That time of day’s beautifully quiet,” David says. “I don’t remember much of what I did, but I thought I would go for a swim. I do 500 metres in breaststroke, I was pounding up and down the pool. I got out of the pool and thought, I’ll sit on one of the loungers and let my heart rate and breathing go back to normal. That’s where I had my heart attack and cardiac arrest.”

"I knew I needed to do CPR straight away"

Alex, an engineer from Greenwich, was on an early shift when he heard that someone was in trouble in the pool. Knowing from his training that immediate action would be the difference between life and death, he sprinted to David’s side. “The normal codes came over the radio and I went to the CCTV, then rushed to the poolside," Alex says. "Then I just kind of went to complete autopilot. David stopped breathing and I knew what I needed to do so I went straight into CPR.”

It had been as long as 9 minutes since David started having his cardiac arrest, but eventually David started breathing again and slowly started to come round. "They took me to Barts and I don’t really remember much after that until waking in the hospital bed with my son next to me. In addition to Alex there must’ve been hundreds of people that day who were just doing their jobs that meant I survived. I don’t know who any of these people are, but I owe my life to them,” David reflects. He’s now learned CPR himself so that he too has the skills needed to be a life saver.

“That difference between someone acting within thirty seconds and someone waiting two minutes because they’re not so sure revolves around saving someone’s life or not,” advises Alex. Alex’s speedy intervention and instinctive willingness to try his best to help undoubtedly saved David. When the stakes were high, Alex didn’t think twice, he just tried – and David’s children still have a father because of it. 

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