Ambulance volunteer from St Helens helps save friend’s life

Tony Foster and his wife Janet (centre) are reunited with ambulance crew who helped save his life, Senior Paramedic Team Leader, Damian Walsh, Community First Responder, Peter Gregory, Paramedic, Mark Jackson and Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Shelley Buckley.
Tony Foster and his wife Janet (centre) are reunited with ambulance crew who helped save his life, Senior Paramedic Team Leader, Damian Walsh, Community First Responder, Peter Gregory, Paramedic, Mark Jackson and Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Shelley Buckley.

A community first responder (CFR) for North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) saved the life of his dear friend when he suddenly had a cardiac arrest after suffering chest pains.


Peter Gregory, 68, from Rainford, gives up his time to respond to emergencies in his local community and when his pager alerted him in on June 26 to an emergency nearby, he rushed to the scene.

Tony Foster (left) with Community First Responder and dear friend, Peter Gregory who helped save his life

Tony Foster (left) with Community First Responder and dear friend, Peter Gregory who helped save his life

Recognising the address in Crank, St Helens, Peter arrived to find his 40 year-long friend, Tony Foster, 76, breathless and in pain.

Just minutes after arriving, Tony suddenly stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest.

Acting swiftly, Peter started life saving CPR and using his automated external defibrillator, delivered a single shock which got Tony's heart beating again.

Ambulance team made up of Senior Paramedic Team Leader, Damian Walsh and Paramedics, Mark Jackson and Paul Grogan, arrived shortly after and Tony was fully alert and speaking.

The team were able to stabilise him and rush Tony to hospital where he underwent a stent procedure followed by a double heart bypass.

On Wednesday, Tony was reunited with the ambulance team who helped save his life, giving him the opportunity to offer his heartfelt thanks to all involved including Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Shelley Buckley who handled the 999 call.

Senior Paramedic Team Leader, Damian Walsh, said: "This is an amazing story of how early CPR and defibrillation can be truly life-saving. It's a whole team effort and it’s fantastic for the team to get the chance to meet Tony in better circumstances and see him doing so well.

"The work of our community first responders is truly vital. Without Peter's early intervention that day, this story could have been entirely different."

Peter is one of two CFRs in the Rainford area who respond entirely voluntarily to emergencies in their local community.

"They have also been providing free first aid training in the town so that as many people as possible are aware of the simple skills needed to save a life.

Peter said: “In the event of a cardiac arrest, a patient’s chance of survival drops by 10% for every passing minute and therefore it’s so important that people know what to do even before the ambulance arrives and are confident enough to use these skills.

“I have been a CFR for five years now and I always think it’s a great privilege to be able to go into people’s homes to assist and also to give reassurance to them and their family. We’re always on the look-out for more volunteers and would urge people to join up.

“I met Tony when we worked together in the police force and have stayed friends ever since so dealing with an incident when it’s someone that you know very closely certainly adds an extra dimension.”

After spending over two weeks in hospital, Tony is now making a good recovery.

Tony said: “I cannot express the gratitude I feel towards these people, the work they do is incredible and I am truly thankful. I am in no doubt at all, and neither is my wife, that had it not been for the initial intervention and then the continued care, I wouldn’t be here.”

For more information about becoming a community first responder, visit www.nwas.nhs.uk/volunteer.