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‘Heart hero’ honoured for lifesaving CPR on driver who had cardiac arrest

A man who saved a grandfather’s life after he had a sudden cardiac arrest at the wheel and crashed at a car showroom has been named a “heart hero” at a charity awards ceremony.

Stuart McCreath smashed the windows of the car which was still accelerating, climbed through a back window, switched off the engine and pulled Steven Smith out during the incident in Aberdeen earlier this year.

He then administered CPR for about 12 minutes until paramedics arrived and used a defibrillator to start Mr Smith’s heart again.

Mr Smith, 56, was returning a courtesy car to the Peter Vardy showroom when he suffered a suspected heart attack at the wheel of the car, which then triggered a sudden cardiac arrest.

Mr McCreath, who works as a parts adviser at the showroom, was on the scene within seconds and sprang into action.

He said: “The man inside, who of course I now know to be Steven, had his chin on his chest and his hands by his side. I was hitting the windows, but none would open.

“I ran to the workshop and asked for a hammer, and I told them to call an ambulance immediately.”

With the car still accelerating, its wheels spinning into the cars in front, Mr McCreath broke the rear offside window, then climbed in feet-first and turned the engine off while another colleague, Lorraine Maxwell, jumped into the vehicle to help.

At this point Mr Smith’s heart was still beating and he was still breathing, before making what sounded like a last gasp.

Mr McCreath and his colleague pulled him out of the car, and he carried out CPR until paramedics arrived.

He was named a “heart hero” at the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Awards, which took place at Glaziers Hall in London on Wednesday.

The 46-year-old from Aberdeen, a former armourer in the military, said: “It feels odd to be called a hero. I just did something that I could do that needed to be done.

“The biggest thing in my head was ensuring that Steven would have more time with his family.

“I was gobsmacked to be nominated for a Heart Hero award. I was humbled but the best reward I could have had was Steven being around for his grand-daughter.”

He was nominated for the award by Mr Smith’s family.

Stuart and Steven
Steven Smith (right) said he is so grateful to Stuart McCreath (left) and his colleagues (Ross Johnston/BHF/PA)

BHF said that fewer than one in 10 people in the UK survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, but early CPR and defibrillation can double the chances of surviving.

Mr Smith, a semi-retired project engineer, who has a son and a grand-daughter, was in hospital for five days following the incident in January.

He had four stents fitted on his right-side main coronary artery, followed by a further two stents on the left side three weeks later.

A regular runner, he was shocked by his major heart incident.

He said: “They think the sudden cardiac arrest was caused by a calcium build-up because my cholesterol and blood pressure was fine, as was my weight and general diet.

“The medical team in hospital told me that I was very lucky and the CPR had saved my life.

“I’m so grateful that Stuart, Lorraine and their colleagues were able to react in that situation. If the cardiac arrest had happened whilst I was out running or home alone, I’d have been a goner.

“I feel so lucky that it happened when and where it did.”

Mr Smith, from Aberdeen, added: “How can you put into words being able to thank them? Can you ever say enough when thanking someone for saving your life?”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “We hope the awards inspire others to take action against heart and circulatory diseases – by learning CPR, fundraising, or even donating unwanted goods to one of our stores.”