The power of bystander CPR helped save retired Welsh detective’s life

A 76-year-old ex-detective from Caernarfon thanks passers-by for bringing him back to life following a cardiac arrest.

Gwyn Roberts’s heart stopped for eight minutes while local people performed CPR, saving his life.

Now he wants others to learn the life-saving act of CPR and defibrillation, so that more lives can be saved, just as his was.

On Thursday 27 February 2020, Gwyn was in Llandudno taking his car for a service.

He said: “I was on my way to collect my car when I came to a pedestrian crossing. As I crossed the road, my vision blurred, and I felt as though I was going to lose consciousness. In a bid to steady myself, I took one step to my left, leant on a concrete bollard and everything went dark.”

Gwyn was unaware he was having a cardiac arrest, and if not treated immediately, he would die within minutes.

Thankfully, a female passer-by witnessed Gwyn collapse, dialled 999 and was directed to start CPR immediately.

As this was taking place, the ambulance located a defibrillator at the nearby Habits Tea Rooms. The defib was rushed over from the café, the pads were placed on Gwyn’s chest and the defibrillator administered the shocks to restart his heart.

A local fireman, Gareth Morgan, witnessed the crowd forming around Gwyn. He abandoned his car in the road and joined the efforts to save Gwyn’s life by taking over the CPR attempts and applying the defib.

Minutes behind him was a Llandudno RNLI Crewman, Christopher Bestall who assisted giving Gwyn CPR while Gareth continued to use the defibrillator.

Eventually, their exhaustive efforts paid off, and Gwyn’s heart started to beat again.

Gwyn’s heart had stopped for a total of eight minutes.

Gwyn’s memory of the incident has started to come back to him.

He said: “I remember someone saying, ‘open your eyes’, I recall doing this, then shutting them immediately, feeling as though I wanted to go to sleep.”

Gwyn was taken to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd by ambulance, and once there was told that he had sustained a cardiac arrest.

Gwyn said: “The story ends with my trust in human-kind fully restored.

“I am incredibly lucky to have been in the right place, at the right time, surrounded by the right people. To each and every person that helped save my life, may I extend my eternal gratitude.

“There is an urgent need for the general public to learn CPR, as well as promote the use of defibrillators in Wales. There are around 6,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Wales each year. Please learn CPR in order to help save a life like mine.”

How you can save a life

Save a Life Cymru is committed to improving the chances of survival for people who suffer a cardiac arrest in the community, by providing people in Wales with an opportunity to learn lifesaving CPR skills.

The ‘Touch Someone’s Life’ campaign is laying the foundation for saving lives across Wales by encouraging everybody to take an interest in learning CPR. As part of the campaign, a new CPR training video has been created which can be found on its website.

If you want to learn CPR, watch this short training video https://gov.wales/save-a-life-cymru

Len Nokes, Emeritus Professor and Chair of Save a Life Cymru said: “Each and every one of us has the power to save a life. Performing CPR and using a defibrillator can make the difference between a full recovery and someone not leaving the hospital. Too many of us have either never learned these life-saving skills or don’t have the confidence to use them if we needed to.

“Learning CPR and using a defibrillator is easy. With the majority of cardiac arrests taking place in the home, we can make a real difference to survival rates in Wales simply by increasing the number of people who are able and willing to perform CPR and use a defibrillator.”

For more information, search Save a Life Cymru.