How Kettering teacher saved her husband's life

A teacher at a Kettering school gave her husband life-saving CPR - and is now teaching pupils how to do the same.

Andy and Michele Smith. NNL-181016-130604005
Andy and Michele Smith. NNL-181016-130604005

Michele Smith’s husband Andy suffered a cardiac arrest at home in April 2012, having previously been diagnosed with heart disease dilated cardiomyopathy.

Michele, a social sciences teacher at Southfield School, was in the same room as her husband when she noticed he wasn’t answering and slumped in his seat.

She recalled how she went into a ‘parallel universe’ as she fought to save his life.

Andy at the training session at Southfield School. NNL-181016-130628005

She said: “I called 999 and carried out CPR with the ambulance call handler on the phone, which must have been for around seven or eight minutes.

“I kept saying ‘I am not going to lose my best friend. I am not going to let him go.’”

Fortunately for the couple Michele, 54, had first aid training two years before the incident so she could lead a school trip.

She said: “I remember thinking at the time when we were doing the CPR training, ‘I’m not going to need this’.

A dummy used in CPR training. NNL-181016-130615005

“You only generally give out plasters or paracetamol on a school trip.

“It was quite ironic that I was then required to use it on my own husband.”

Andy, a 57-year-old self-employed teacher, said he lost two days of memory but soon realised his wife had saved his life.

He said: “The numbers suggest that about eight out of every 100 people that have an arrest out of hospital survive.

Pupils at Southfield at Monday's training session. NNL-181016-130639005

“I would be one of the 92 out of 100 that die, not one of the eight, had Michele not given me CPR.”

Figures released as part of Restart a Heart Day this week suggest 29 per cent of people in the region wouldn’t perform CPR if they saw someone suffer a cardiac arrest.

Michele said she found that statistic “frightening” and urged people to become trained in performing CPR.

She said: “I think it’s different when it’s your best friend and the person that you love dying in front of you.

“You’ve got to do something but I’d like to think I would have done it for anybody in the same situation.

“You can’t do anything bad in that situation because they are going to die.

“Whatever you do is better than nothing.”

Michele, who was recently given a CPR Hero Award, is now using her experience to train every Year 10 pupil at Southfield School in performing CPR.

On Monday she took Andy to school to share their story at one of the training sessions and she said it really hit home with the pupils.

She said: “I think it really brought it to life to them to see somebody standing next to me who would have been dead had he not been given CPR.”

Restart a Heart Day is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the importance of CPR, which will today see more than 200,000 people trained in how to perform it.

The campaign is organised jointly by the BHF, the Resuscitation Council (UK), St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and ambulance trusts and fire and rescue services across the country.

This year for the first time, the day will be marked globally, as training and awareness events take place for World Restart a Heart Day.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “You may not feel confident performing CPR if you haven’t been trained or you don’t remember your training, but without your early action the chances someone will survive a cardiac arrest are virtually zero.

“The BHF is striving to improve survival rates by creating a nation of lifesavers through our CPR training programmes.

“By raising awareness on Restart a Heart Day, we hope more people will see that CPR really can be the difference between life and death and that doing something is always better than doing nothing.”