A CAUNSALL man was reunited with ambulance staff who saved his life and said he would be "eternally grateful" to them.

John Wilkinson, 71 and his wife Kate Wilkinson, 65, visited the West Midlands Ambulance Service in Brierley Hill last week to meet the call assessor, responder paramedic and ambulance crew that come to their aid in December last year.

Mrs Wilkinson called 999 from the couple's home in Caunsall at about 9am on Tuesday, December 17, when her husband collapsed in their living room after coming down the stairs. During the 999 call, which can be heard above, Mr Wilkinson stopped breathing. With help from call assessor Claire Ballyn, Mrs Wilkinson remembered her first aid training and started chest compressions.

The ambulance crew arrived seven minutes after the emergency call to find Mrs Wilkinson performing CPR on her husband. The crew, backed up by a responder paramedic, took over from her and used a defibrillator five times to restart Mr Wilkinson's heart back into a rhythm. The Caunsall man, who had been resuscitated on scene, who taken Russell's Hall Hospital, Dudley, by ambulance.

He spent five days in hospital where he was fitted with an internal defibrillator.

Mrs Wilkinson, who retired from her administrative role at a college at the end of the last academic year, said: "If I'd still been working I would have already left the house when John collapsed so the outcome would have been very different.

"When asked by the call taker if I was willing to do CPR, of course there was no hesitation. I thank God that I was able to keep a level head and not panic, it had been some 20 years since taking a first aid course but I am so grateful I did and recognise the importance of the skills I had learnt. I would urge anyone to do the same as one fay you may help to save a life."

Mr Wilkinson, who is said to be recovering well fro his ordeal, said: "I have to joke about it at times as I'm still coming to terms with what happened.

It's frightening to think about it really. I don't remember anything until later that day when I woke up in hospital but from hearing accounts about how well Kate coped that day and how much the ambulance service did to save my life, it's humbling and I am eternally grateful to everyone because without them I wouldn't be here.

"Nobody appreciates what the NHS is until something like this happens and you experience it first-hand. They proved why the NHS is Britain's most treasured institution."

Responder paramedic Rebecca Amos said: “After about two minutes of CPR you start to tire so for Kate to do seven minutes non-stop is a remarkable achievement which resulted in her husband surviving.

“We do our bit on scene, take patients to hospital and that’s it, we don’t get to see the outcome very often. It’s lovely to meet a patient that’s survived because it’s so rare and often people don’t realise how few and far between success stories are.

“This case was just before Christmas so it was especially nice to walk away from and know it was a happy outcome. Working in the ambulance service front line can be a mentally and physically exhausting job but a lovely story like this makes it all worthwhile.”