Yorkshire cardiac arrest survivors back drive to teach lifesaving CPR

(left to right) Christine Ott, Phil Ott, Ryk Downes and Kay Hargraves.
(left to right) Christine Ott, Phil Ott, Ryk Downes and Kay Hargraves.
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Kay Hargraves knows more than most about the lifesaving difference knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation can make.

For her father Phil Ott was saved on two separate occasions, first by staff at his gym and later by his wife Christine.

And Kay herself was among bystanders who helped Leeds councillor Ryk Downes when he collapsed earlier this year.

He was saved by their efforts and a community defibrillator which was positioned outside Pool-in-Wharfedale Post Office.

Now Kay, her father and Coun Downes, are supporting a Yorkshire Ambulance Service campaign to encourage people to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Her dad, from Boroughbridge, was resuscitated by staff at his gym in Ripon when he collapsed in February 2015. Then 15 months later, he suffered another cardiac arrest.

His wife Christine said: “I grabbed the phone and rang 999 and automatically started doing what I had seen them do at the gym the previous year. I have never been taught CPR but I knew I had to do it to give him the best possible chance of survival.”

Phil, 73, added: “I am a prime example of how CPR can make a huge difference and I hope the Yorkshire Ambulance Service #CPRSavedMyLife campaign makes others learn this important skill – even if one life is saved as a result, it will have been worthwhile.”

Earlier this year, his daughter Kay sprung into action to help Coun Downes. The 51-year-old had been on a 10-mile run when he collapsed close to his home.

Kay, from Pool-in-Wharfedale, said: “Instinct just kicked in.

“I had learnt CPR when I was a youngster and what stuck in my head was the Vinnie Jones’ advert when he did CPR to Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees.

“While it’s not nice to think you may have to use CPR, it’s the best thing in the world knowing you have performed CPR and made a difference.

“I was one of four people who stopped to try and save Ryk’s life, none of us knew each other but we all worked together to help – it was incredible.”

Coun Downes was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary where he had a triple heart bypass.

Within 14 weeks he was well enough to run the Leeds half marathon and has since raised money for four more community defibrillators for Yeadon and Otley.

He said: “A combination of CPR and the defibrillator is the reason I am here today.

“The bottom line is that if no-one does anything, the patient will die, but if you do something, their chances increase significantly so I would encourage all survivors of bystander CPR to support the #CPRSavedMyLife campaign.”

* Cardiac arrests can happen to people of any age – and survivors are being urged to support the campaign.

They’re being asked to take a selfie with an A4 #CPRSavedMyLife sign, including their first name and how old they were when they suffered the collapse, and post it social media and tag @YorksAmbulance or @yorkshireambulanceservice.

The campaign is part of preparations for Restart a Heart Day on October 18, when 25,000 schoolchildren will be taught CPR.

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