Shonagh Murton is one of more than 650 Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff and volunteers who will be teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at 100 secondary schools across North Yorkshire today.
The event will always have a particular significance for Shonagh, an Urgent Care Practitioner in the Vale of York area, as her husband suffered a cardiac arrest while watching their youngest son play football just three weeks before Restart a Heart Day in 2019.
Despite the efforts of two bystanders who carried out CPR and the fast response of the ambulance team which resulted in Richard being resuscitated, he suffered another cardiac arrest and sadly died.
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Shonagh, who lives in Bridlington with her sons Oakley, 10, and Archie, 15, said: "I was working in York when I got the call to tell me what had happened. I’ll never forget hearing the sound of the metronome on the defibrillator in the background; I knew it wasn’t good.
"I will always be grateful to the two parents who stepped in to help Richard that day, they bought him some time for my colleagues to get there and use their advanced skills to try and save him.
"However, Richard’s coronary arteries were completely occluded so it wasn’t to be, but no one knew that at the time. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is that people have a go at CPR and use a defibrillator if there is one nearby because it really can make such a huge difference.”
Only days after her husband’s death, Shonagh kept her promise to teach her son Archie and other students at Headlands School in Bridlington how to perform CPR on Restart a Heart Day and she is looking forward to returning to the school to pass on her life-saving skills to even more pupils.
"We decided to stick to our plans for Restart a Heart Day just after Richard died and we got a lot out of the day. We understood how important it was and that by giving students the skills and confidence to do CPR we could help to prevent others from having to go through what we have been through," she said. "This year’s event will be a little easier."
The importance of CPR training and defibrillators made international headlines this summer when footballer Christian Eriksen collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest during a match at Euro 2020.
Students at Scarborough College, Scarborough Sixth Form College, Scarborough University Technical College, Scalby School, Eskdale School in Whitby and Norton College have all received CPR training today as part of a Yorkshire Ambulance Service initiative to train 30,000 students with the life-saving skill.
Jason Carlyon, Community Engagement Manager with Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: "Fewer than 10 per cent of people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside hospital survive, partly because they don’t receive early CPR and defibrillation but together we can change that statistic.
"Anyone can learn CPR and anyone can use it to save a life. If someone collapses and isn’t breathing, call 999 and start chest compressions straight away to ensure that blood keeps pumping around the patient’s body.
"Without that early intervention, it becomes more difficult for our paramedics to achieve a good outcome."