When new CPR instructor David Knowles was asked to hold a class at his local church, he had no intention of becoming a real-life case study.
The 77-year-old former registered nurse says he remembers setting up and beginning the class, but things went downhill shortly after.
Knowles, feeling weak and lightheaded, crumpled to the floor. The students initially thought it was part of the demonstration. But this was no drill.
“Are you all right?” a student asked. “I’m not feeling all right at all.” Knowles answered. He was experiencing a heart attack during his first day as a CPR instructor.
A retired nurse, Karol Chew was in the group. She had hoped to brush up on her CPR skills. Little did she know that she would be called upon to help save the life of her instructor.
While Karol was pulled into action, Knowles told her to call a rescue team and remove his false teeth. He asked that his wife be notified and was able to alert the pupils to keep her calm, since she had just had gallbladder surgery and was not supposed to run.
Remarkably, David Knowles was still monitoring his own pulse, even as he was “beginning to get a bit foggy.”
The UK man knew he needed to try to stay awake, recognizing he had only moments to advise the class of onlookers how to care for him. He knew he could lose consciousness at any time.
And that is what happened. A rescue team arrived to help care for the man who briefly came to, then again lost consciousness.
Knowles remembers nothing between the class and two and a half weeks later when he woke up in the hospital. He had been in a medically induced coma to aid in his healing since there was extensive damage to his heart.
“It was quite severe. I was more dead than alive when they got me into hospital.”
Knowles went on to spend 5 weeks in the hospital and then returned home to be with his wife.
He credits Karol Chew and her CPR skills for keeping him alive until rescue workers came.
Four months later, Knowles says he’s “Feeling a lot better.” He is exercising and getting stronger each day. Doctors say he is in good health, and he is helping St. John Ambulance, where he still volunteers, commemorate its 140th anniversary.