“One morning a few years back, I had just started work when an elderly woman came out of the house next to the one I was cleaning. She was obviously in distress and shouted that her husband had collapsed. She was on the phone and the emergency services were talking to her when I entered her house. I found her husband Francis, aged 78 collapsed on the floor of the kitchen. He’d obviously fallen against the wall and was sat up. His eyes were slightly open and I could not see any movement whatsoever. My worst fears began to set in as my training in the forces kicked in once again. The first thing I did was check for a pulse, first on his neck and finding none, on his wrist. At first I could not believe that there was no pulse so I checked over and over again. I said to his wife, “there’s no pulse”. The emergency services asked her to tell me to start CPR. I knew what I had to do and dragged Francis into the hall where I began to try and breath some life back into him.
I opened his mouth and breathed into his. His chest rose. He had been sick and I could feel bits of vomit in my own mouth. I didn’t feel sick though, that would come later when the adrenalin wore off. I pumped at his chest, counting as I went, then back to giving him air. It seemed to go on for ages. When would the ambulance arrive. On and on it went, some colour returning to his face but I was getting no response. Still no pulse. On and on without success.
Then the paramedics burst in and took over. Their professionalism really showed since they did not just brush me aside but instead asked me to help carry him into the living room where there was much more space. Then said “it’s ok we’ll take over now”.
I stood in the doorway watching as they did all they could to bring him back but the monitor stayed resolutely blank. They began shaking their heads. I knew it was over but still could not accept he was dead. I sat in the kitchen where his wife made me a cup of tea. When the doctor arrived he pronounced Francis dead. The tears rolled down my face, but one of the paramedics consoled me by asking if I had done this sort of thing before. I said I had been in the Navy. He nodded knowingly.
Later I realised that he had been dead for at least ten minutes by the time I arrived on the scene and had it been possible to bring him back, then I felt a bit better knowing that he would have responded. I could not work for the rest of that day”.