"He is definitely one of the lucky ones" - wife saves her husband with CPR

Dave Cleland who survived a sudden cardiac arrest and his wife Bernie

Dave Cleland who survived a sudden cardiac arrest and his wife Bernie - Credit: Suffolk Accident Rescue Service

A Suffolk man who survived a cardiac arrest is urging others to learn CPR after his wife helped save his life. 

Dave Cleland, 54, who lives near Woodbridge, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at home in early 2021. 

Less than 1 in 10 people who have a cardiac arrest out of the hospital in the UK go on to survive, but Mr Cleland was lucky to receive CPR from his wife Bernie which helped to save his life. 

Fortunately, just the day before Dave’s SCA his wife Bernie had completed a refresher session in First Aid, this included CPR training.

With the help of the call handler, Bernie applied her CPR skills and started the chain of survival - ultimately keeping Dave alive before he received specialist treatment from Liam Sagi, a volunteer Critical Care Paramedic with Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS). East Anglian Air Ambulance were also mobilised to support the crew and airlift Mr Cleland to hospital.


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Since recovering, Mr Cleland has made it his mission to encourage people to learn CPR and has given presentations including to his employer BT. 

Mr Cleland was watching when Christian Eriksen had his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

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“For me it really reinforces the need to learn CPR and have access to AEDs," said Mr Cleland. 

"I had several people thank me for sending out information on cardiac arrests and CPR - lots of people thought of me and my presentation as they watched the events at Euro 2020 unfold.” 

Gina Saunders, project officer from SARS, added: “For people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest Dave is definitely one of the lucky ones. It’s fantastic to see how many people Dave has educated in just the last few months, his passion is infectious and we are grateful for all Dave is doing.”

Liam Sagi who helped to save Dave Cleland's life

Liam Sagi who helped to save Dave Cleland's life - Credit: Suffolk Accident Rescue Service

Liam Sagi, the SARS volunteer responder who went to Mr Cleland'’s aid, said: “A cardiac arrest happens when your heart stops pumping blood around the body - early intervention and speed of response is critical, every second counts. Bystander CPR, as Bernie did that day is vital and can increase the chance of survival by 60%.”

With Covid restrictions lifting in July SARS are restarting their CPR training sessions and just like Mr Cleland are passionate about teaching bystander CPR.

“I would encourage everyone to get some basic first aid training," said Mr Cleland. 

"If there are more people who have some idea on how to deliver CPR, then more cardiac arrest patients will have a positive outcome." 

Mrs Cleland has thanked Mr Sagi for what he did that day: “Liam was one of the first on scene attending in the role of a volunteer Critical Care Paramedic. Not only did he give my husband the clinical care that he needed, he also went out of his way to explain to me in simple terms what was happening as my husband was being prepared for the EAAA helicopter.

"We were completely stunned when we later found out that Liam was doing all this as a volunteer in his own time, and there are no words to express how thankful both my husband and myself are.”

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