Carolyn Bjelan’s emergency first aid training – updated just a month earlier – kicked in when husband Jovan suddenly collapsed at their Harrogate home while doing some DIY. She said: “I was upstairs and heard a loud thud and when I found him I thought he must have fallen off the ladder. When I realised he wasn’t breathing there were a few seconds when I panicked and thought I can’t do this, but then the training kicked in and I knew I had to act quickly. I started CPR and rang for the ambulance putting them on speaker phone. I knew time was so important as the longer the brain is starved of oxygen the greater the chance of brain injury.”
Carolyn, 52, continued performing CPR on her husband until the emergency services arrived, saving his life.
Jovan’s heart started beating again but when he came round the 55-year-old was very agitated and Yorkshire Air Ambulance medics decided to place him in an induced coma before flying him to Leeds General Infirmary. It was hugely traumatic for Carolyn and her daughter Danielle, 34, but her regular CPR training meant she knew what to do and could act to save her husband's life.
She added: “I’ve been a Brownie leader for years and having worked in construction too, I’ve always kept my first aid training up and had done CPR refresher training just a month before this happened. If I hadn’t Jovan might not be here. I do feel really strongly that CPR training should be much more widely taught in workplaces, in the community and in every school. We need to raise more awareness about the importance of having these skills.”
Doctors believe Jovan’s sudden heart failure was due to him being one of more than 620,000 people in the UK who have an inherited faulty gene. He has been fitted with an internal cardiac defibrillator which will shock his heart if it happens again.