Heroic Jill had the skills to save her dad’s life

Jill with her parents
Jill with her parents

A Leighton Buzzard man says he owes his life to his daughter who performed CPR when he collapsed in church.

David Warren, 83, has no recollection of the morning, but it’s a day his daughter Jill, 48, won’t soon forget.

Jill with her dad David

Jill with her dad David

David and Pamela, his wife of 61 years, had gone to Trinity Methodist Church on North Street in Leighton Buzzard, where David plays the organ for the Sunday service.

His daughter Jill Warren had gone to her church in Eggington but decided to pop in to see her parents at their church on her way home – something she only normally does at Christmas time.

Jill, who’s a mother of four, said: “I have no idea why I made that decision. I just got this urge to see them so I drove to their church and as I got out of the car I thought it was a bit odd as I would have expected to hear Dad playing the organ.

“Instead I was greeted by one of the congregation who asked if I was David’s daughter and she explained he’d collapsed.”

Jill ran inside to find her dad lying across the organ peddles, and one of the congregation, a retired GP, had started CPR.

“I went over immediately and said we must lie him flat on the floor and open his airway properly,” said Jill. They managed to move David on to the floor, and Jill, who’s a trained workplace first aider, took over the CPR.

“I’ve had regular first aid training with St John Ambulance as part of my role as a charity administrator in Milton Keynes, so I just went into autopilot despite the patient being my dad.

“Someone shouted the ambulance was on its way so I just kept going with the chest compressions and breaths. I felt some ribs crack at one point, but I knew this was normal due to the training I’d had, so kept going. When the ambulance’s first responder arrived they told me to continue whilst they got their equipment out.”

The East of England Ambulance Service first responder used an automated external defibrillator to deliver three shocks to David’s heart and after the third they managed to establish a rhythm and he regained consciousness. The air ambulance arrived on scene - its doctor provided critical care to David as they took him to Lister Hospital by road.

David was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator and came home around two weeks later. Despite the odds, he has no further complications following his cardiac arrest and is extremely grateful for his daughter’s prompt and competent life saving actions.

David said: “It’s a miracle really. Jill only comes to our church at Christmas time, but something made her come that day and she saved my life. She’s marvellous.”

And David’s wife Pamela, 86, added: “It’s amazing Jill decided to come to see us. What she did for David is wonderful – we’re very glad we had a third child!”

Jill added: “Everyone said I’m a hero but I really don’t feel that way, because I just did what I had been taught. I had the confidence to take control of a dramatic and upsetting situation thanks to the St John Ambulance first aid requalification course I completed in May.

“Physically practising CPR on a resuscitation doll just a few months before helped me enormously and prepared me to take on the most important first aider role of my life – saving my dad’s life.”

Jill, who lives in the Heath Road area of Leighton Buzzard, this week decided to come forward and tell her story to encourage others to learn the skills needed to save a life following the drama of Sunday, August 21.

She said: “Many people have been completely amazed that I knew what to do. I believe everyone should learn first aid so we all have the confidence to do the right thing in an emergency.

“For me, it means my dad is still alive today. For you, it could mean saving the life of a complete stranger, a friend, or a loved one. In just a few hours you can learn these vital skills.”

Deborah Adwent, St John Ambulance regional training manager, added: “First aid is a simple skill to learn but it can have an incredible impact. For David, it meant he had the best possible chance of survival and I’m delighted to hear he is recovering well.”

For more information on St John Ambulance, including how to make a donation, volunteering opportunities, and details of training for the public, schools and businesses, visit www.sja.org.uk or call 0844 770 4800.