Stephen Bond, 60, who is originally from north Belfast but now lives in Hertfordshire was in Northern Ireland in August last year to work at the ISPS Handa European tour golf event, staying at a holiday home near Kells.
When Stephen collapsed his wife of almost 30 years Andrea quickly realised something serious had happened and immediately called 999.
She then performed lifesaving CPR for 13 minutes until paramedics arrived and took over.
It was thanks to Andrea’s lifesaving actions that Steve has returned to Northern Ireland one year on from his cardiac arrest to pay tribute and visit the medical teams that saved his life.
Stephen and Andrea have joined forces with British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI) to urge locals to learn the skills to save a life.
Quick CPR and defibrillation is shown to more than double the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. Through BHF NI’s digital CPR training tool, RevivR, it takes just 15 minutes to learn.
The couple were having a normal morning in their holiday home when Stephen, a strength and conditioning coach, collapsed.
Andrea recalled the events of August 51 last year: “It was just a horrifying moment. My husband, the father of my two children, was changing colour and twitching.
"He also started gasping and I was convinced he was going to die right in front of me. I knew I couldn’t let this happen. I had just lost my mum and had watched my father die in front of me as a child so I was determined to do all I could to ensure Stephen lived.
“I dialled 999 and was directed to do CPR by the call handler who counted me through the timings as I was originally going too fast. This was the first time I had ever done CPR and ended up doing it for almost quarter of an hour before the paramedics arrived.”
After a further half an hour of CPR and defibrillation from the paramedics, Stephen was taken to Antrim Area Hospital and into A&E where he was ventilated.
“We didn’t expect him to come out of that hospital alive. We were told not to leave the hospital so I called our sons to come and say goodbye to their father. It was just awful,” said Andrea.
“He was moved to another room and I was convinced that was it, that he was gone. Miraculously, Stephen had actually made it through and was even taken off the ventilator earlier than planned – we couldn’t believe it.”
One year later Stephen has made an excellent recovery although doctors still do not know what caused his cardiac arrest.
“I want to express my deep felt thanks and gratitude to all the medical teams at Antrim Area hospital along with the paramedics who attended the scene and saved my life,” he said.
The father of two urged people across Northern Ireland to learn CPR. He said:
“Andrea saved my life by starting CPR so quickly. I would love if everyone took the time to learn CPR so that if the unthinkable happened you would know how to save a loved one.”
BHF NI is urging the public to learn CPR for free in just 15 minutes – using its online tool, RevivR. The tool means anyone can learn lifesaving CPR skills, anywhere, anytime – and all that is needed is a mobile phone and a cushion.
RevivR teaches how to recognise a cardiac arrest, gives feedback on chest compressions and outlines the correct steps of using a defibrillator, giving anyone the confidence to help in the ultimate medical emergency.
Fearghal McKinney, Head of British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland, said:
“Andrea’s brave actions saved Stephen’s life and we want everyone to have that chance. When someone has a cardiac arrest it most likely won’t be a stranger in the street it will be your mum, dad, friend or colleague and standing by while the minutes tick by not knowing what to do are devastating.
“We need everyone in Northern Ireland to learn this life-saving skill to give them the confidence to step in and give CPR when someone collapses after a cardiac arrest. It could mean the difference between life and death.”
To learn how to save a life in 15 minutes, visit bhf.org.uk/revivr
Stephen Bond 1 (L-R) Head of BHF NI Fearghal McKinney with Andrea Bond and Stephen Bond