Defibrillator in boot of car saves a life

ONE of the directors of a big engineering firm in Glasgow owes his life to a worker in the IT department who happened to have a mobile defibrillator in the back of his car.

Mark Griffiths, managing director of the power systems division of Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) was saved after having a cardiac arrest thanks to the quick response of Craig Watson, an IT engineer who is also Commandant of the Renfrew company of St Andrew’s First Aid.

Mr Griffiths 58, is now backing a campaign by St Andrew’s First Aid to increase awareness of mobile defibrillators and to encourage people to learn how to use them.

Craig Watson, 37, an IT engineer said he just happened to be “in the right place at the right time” when Mr Griffiths collapsed.

The first aider said: “I had just arrived in the car park when one of our first aiders came running out saying one of our directors had collapsed. I jumped out of the car and ran up the stairs to the office where he was lying on the floor.

“One of the trained first aiders was already performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. I could see the severity of the situation.

“Luckily I had a defibrillator in the back of the car. I left the first aider performing CPR, ran back to the car, grabbed the defibrillator and ran back up to the office.”

Craig Watson had never had to use the Laerdel FR2 machine in an emergency before – but after 17 years in St Andrew’s First Aid and many first aid training courses he knew what to do.

“I got the defibrillator ready and stuck the pads on him – when you do that the machine prompts you what to do. It said a shock was advised.

“We delivered a shock and carried on with the CPR but there was still no sign of a pulse. The machine advised a second shock. Thirty seconds after the second shock was delivered the colour started to come back into his face.

“I could see from the defibrillator that there was a heart rhythm – then the pulse came back.”

Mr Griffith’s heart had stopped for about eight minutes – but by the time the ambulance arrived he was conscious – although he couldn’t remember anything that had happened.

Craig Watson said: “You should have seen the faces on the ambulance crew when I told them I had delivered two shocks and he was back. After two shocks the chance of surviving lowers.”

Mr Griffiths was taken to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow where his heart stopped a further seven times. He was fitted with an internal defibrillator and has made a full recovery.

Craig Watson said: “He certainly thanked me and his family thanked me too. He’s taking it easy but he has a whole new perspective on life.  I was proud of what I did but it’s just back to normal now. I have trained for years in first aid and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The training kicks in and you just go for it.”

The events of last November 7 have also changed things within Balfour Beatty – which has started working with Heartstart UK to ensure more staff receive training in CPR.  The company has also been looking into having mobile defibrillators in its workplaces.

Jim Dorman, training manager at St Andrew’s First Aid said: “We are very keen for mobile defibrillators to be available in work places and public areas.   Evidence shows that early intervention with a defibrillator can be crucial in helping to save lives when someone has had a cardiac arrest.”

Balfour Beatty and Mark Griffiths are now backing St Andrew’s First Aid campaign to increase awareness of the uses of mobile defibrillation devices.

Mr Griffiths said: “I owe my life to the skill, experience and quick reactions of the first aiders at BBES and in particular to Craig for which my family and I are profoundly grateful.  Having first hand experience of what having a portable defibrillator can do, I am a strong advocate for having them in work places and in other public locations.”

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