A North Yorkshire woman who used CPR to save her husband’s life is calling for compulsory life-saving skills to be taught in all schools and workplaces.
Carolyn Bjelan’s emergency first aid training – updated just a month earlier – kicked in when husband Jovan suddenly collapsed at their Harrogate home while doing some DIY.
“I was upstairs and heard a loud thud and when I found him I thought he must have fallen off the ladder,” said the 52-year-old head of Project Coordination and Customer Services at stone specialists Lapicida in Knaresborough.
“When I realised he wasn’t breathing there were a few seconds when I panicked and thought I can’t do this, but then the training kicked in and I knew I had to act quickly.
“I started CPR and rang for the ambulance putting them on speaker phone. I knew time was so important as the longer the brain is starved of oxygen the greater the chance of brain injury.”
Carolyn continued performing CPR on her husband until the emergency services arrived, saving his life.
Jovan’s heart started beating again but when he came round the 55-year-old was very agitated and Yorkshire Air Ambulance medics decided to place him in an induced coma before flying him to Leeds General Infirmary.
It was hugely traumatic for Carolyn and her daughter Danielle, 34, but her regular CPR training meant she knew what to do to save her husband’s life.
“I did suffer post-traumatic stress afterwards and I did get some help,” added Carolyn. “But we have amazing family and friends who were just fantastically supportive and Jovan is absolutely fine now.
“I’ve been a Brownie leader for years and having worked in construction too, I’ve always kept my first aid training up and had done CPR refresher training just a month before this happened. If I hadn’t Jovan might not be here.
“I do feel really strongly that CPR training should be much more widely taught in workplaces, in the community and in every school. We need to raise more awareness about the importance of having these skills.”
Doctors believe Jovan’s sudden heart failure was due to him being one of more than 620,000 people in the UK who have an inherited faulty gene. He has been fitted with an internal cardiac defibrillator which will shock his heart if it happens again.
The dramatic incident features in the UKTV series Helicopter ER which follows the life-saving work of Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Watch Helicopter ER on UKTV’s Play.
The rapid response emergency charity serves 5million people across Yorkshire and carries out over 1,250 missions every year. YAA needs to raise £12,000 every day and has just replaced its two, ageing aircraft with brand new, state-of-the-art Airbus H145 helicopters.
Abby McClymont, YAA Director of Marketing and Communications, said: “Carolyn did an incredible job in a situation none of us would want to find ourselves in. This just shows the true value of people completing and keeping up to date with CPR training or even basic First Aid.”