In honour of International Women’s Day, we’ve been profiling the work of 10 outstanding women who are all working to improve the UK’s heart health. We asked you to vote for your favourite and you chose our youngest, Samantha Hobbs, 16.
I was 14 when I saved my mum’s life. It was a Monday morning and as I crossed the landing to the bathroom I heard my dad on the phone. I heard him say he thought my mum was dead. He’d called 999.
I was thinking the worst. But I wanted to do something. I’d learnt CPR at Yeovil Life-Saving Club doing my Bronze Medallion so I went into their bedroom and saw mum lying on the bed as if she was still asleep. I felt for her pulse. When I couldn’t find it, I just started CPR. It was an automatic response.
I managed about five minutes but it’s exhausting, so I told my dad what to do and he took over. We took turns until the paramedics arrived. They took over and they used a defibrillator. Just one shock brought her back.
She went to hospital and spent two weeks in intensive care, followed by four weeks in a cardiac ward. The doctors don’t really know why she had a cardiac arrest. She’s had an ICD – a mini defibrillator – fitted inside her in case it happens again. But fortunately in the 18 months since then she’s not needed it.
"It felt great to fight for something I was passionate about"
A couple of months later the dust had settled. But I kept thinking about what had happened and what could have happened if I’d not known CPR. I remember looking at the BHF website and finding information about a campaign to get Emergency Life Support (ELS) skills taught in schools. I knew instantly that I wanted to help.
I got in touch and was soon writing letters about the importance of learning life saving skills to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. I met with Education Minister Elizabeth Truss and my own MP, David Laws. It felt great to fight for something I was passionate about. It’s ridiculous that we’re told what sort of mathematical skills we should have when we leave school but no one insists on people learning how to save a life.
I started talking to my own school too. Last year they ran a course for about 60 pupils who learnt ELS skills. But we’re going bigger and bolder this year. My school is planning mass-participation event for all of Years 8, 9 and 10 so there will be hundreds of pupils all learning CPR and other life saving skills the same day. I feel proud knowing I’ve been involved. And if one more life is saved as a result, it’s more than worthwhile.
If you have the opportunity to learn ELS, I urge you to seek it out and take it up. And if you’re a woman, like my mum, I want you to know that you can get heart problems too. It’s not just something that affects men. You need to look after yourself. Because daughters like me – and even sons – need you around.