Man suffers heart attack and saved by Nissan worker leaving nightshift at Sunderland plant

03.03.22 nissan life saving man meetins tyne tees
John Kelly meets the people who saved his life. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

A keen cyclist has been reunited with two civilians that saved his life, after almost dying on a bike ride last summer.

Frank Kelly had been riding near the Nissan plant in Sunderland last August when he suffered a cardiac arrest. 77-year-old Mr Kelly says he owes his life to a series of people who stepped in. 

Frank said: "If they hadn't been there, I wouldn't be here."

"Today, I couldn't get out of the house fast enough. I kept on looking at the clock and saying what time is it, what time is it, I want to be out seeing them, you know." 

First on the scene that day was Nissan worker David Freeman, who was leaving the plant after a night shift. He called on the lifesaving CPR skills he'd learned 15 years before.

"Obviously it's quite a difficult thing  - a scary situation - but I had the training thankfully, just put it to use."

"I'm very proud, glad he's made a full recovery, very pleased."

He was helped by colleague Karl who said: “When I did my CPR training with Nissan and the ambulance service 10 years ago, I hoped I’d never have to use it, but this just shows why it is so important to get this training. 

“I don’t even normally drive that way – by chance I had taken a detour to a newsagents on my way in. It was a collective effort from me and some other passers-by to keep him alive until the paramedics arrived.

“I’m delighted the company has rolled out the training at work and I’ve recommended it to many of my colleagues, you never know when you’ll need it.”

Paramedics then arrived; Washington-based Michael Laing along with clinical care assistant Dan Chapman.

Dan said: “One of the bystanders was doing CPR to a very good standard and I remember asking him if he was happy to continue for a very short time whilst myself and Mick got our equipment set up, which he agreed and did an amazing job. The other bystanders provided safe traffic control measures and they also did a fantastic job.” 

Frank Kelly has now been reunited with both workers, but also the emergency responders who helped save his life.

Mr Kelly was went to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where he spent the next six weeks before being allowed home to continue to his recovery.

He said: “There’s still a long way to go but I’m getting there slowly. I’ve already met the two lovely Nissan lads but have really wanted to meet the ambulance staff to say thank you. Without them all, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Watch the full report by ITV's Helen Ford

How to spot a cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrests are often confused with heart attacks. Although a heart attack can cause a cardiac arrest, they are not the same thing and having a cardiac arrest does not mean you have had a heart attack.

A heart attack occurs due to a blockage in one of the arteries, whilst a cardiac arrest occurs as a result of an abnormal heart rhythm

A cardiac arrest can strike anybody, at any time, in any place, and a person’s chances of survival reduces by 10 per cent for every minute without CPR and defibrillation.

You can find out more about North East Ambulance Service’s award-winning, first aid, health and safety and trauma training on their website.