Lytham man hailed as a hero tells how he kept footballer's father in law's heart beating

Have your say

A “hero” who saved the life of a professional footballer’s father in law has revealed how a 70s pop tune helped him bring the man back from the dead.

Bob Attewell, from Lytham, was at a petrol station near his home when Jimmy Smith – whose son-in-law is Scotland international Paul Gallagher –collapsed.

Preston North End's Paul Gallagher playing against Doncaster Rovers

Preston North End's Paul Gallagher playing against Doncaster Rovers

Bob, 67, had been filling his tyres with air at Lytham Service Station on Preston Road at 10.30am on Sunday when Mr Smith went into cardiac arrest.

He told The Gazette how his CPR training kicked in and he rushed to the stricken man’s aid.

When Gallagher 34, who currently plays for Preston North End, appealed on social media to help track down his father-in-law’s saviour, Bob was hailed a “hero” by many online.

The 67-year-old, of Lytham Quays, said: “I ran over to him and the first thing I thought was, ‘he’s dead’. He was absolutely blue, not breathing at all. There was no signs of life.

Bob Attewell, from Lytham

Bob Attewell, from Lytham

“People were stood around and no-one knew what to do.”

But without hesitating, Bob set about putting into practice his CPR training he did with the Lake District Mountain Rescue Team four years ago.

For the next 20 minutes, he persevered with the emergency procedure whilst awaiting the arrival of paramedics.

“I just did what I’ve been trained to do,” he said.

“I got him into position and began with the chest compressions to keep his heart going.

“His heart had completely stopped. But I remembered my training and I just decided to keep it up until the ambulance came.”

Bob said the secret to saving a life was a 1977 disco hit from the movie Saturday Night Fever.

“I was told in training that you should sing the song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ when resuscitating someone, because the rhythm of the song matches the beat of the heart.

“It might sound silly, but I was singing Stayin’ Alive in my head the whole time I was administering the CPR. It did the trick.”

After several minutes of CPR, Bob said he heard a “low, hoarse sound” from Mr Smith.He said: “The gentleman would breathe, but then the breathing would stop again. He wasn’t out of the woods by a long shot, but there was hope.

“I just thought, ‘I am this man’s heart’. I had to keep it beating until help arrived.

“I was on the phone to the 999 operator at the same time, taking their advice and keeping them updated with what was happening.

“They kept telling me they were on the way, but it seemed to take forever.”

Nearly 20 minutes later, an air ambulance descended onto the forecourt, soon to be joined by three ambulances with senior clinicians on board. But Bob was doing such a good job that he said he was tasked with continuing with the CPR while paramedics set up their lifesaving equipment.

He said: “It was a big commotion with the air ambulance landing and three ambulances rushing into the petrol station.

“I was relieved to see them and was happy to help out whilst they got the defibrillator ready. I carried on with the CPR for a few more minutes before the paramedics took over.”

North End midfielder Gallagher later launched an online appeal to find Bob.

In a Twitter post to his 46,000 followers, he described how Bob’s swift actions had “no doubt” saved a life.He wrote: “My father-in-law’s heart had totally stopped for 20 minutes.

“Luckily, a bystander performed excellent CPR until the ambulance arrived and no doubt saved his life.

“We have no contact details for the this man, but would like to thank him.

“Thank goodness it happened at the petrol station and not at home alone. And thank god for that man.”

The 34-year-old said he will reach out to Bob to personally express his gratitude after learning his identity.

But Bob, originally from Preston, sheepishly confessed he is a lifelong Bolton Wanderers fan.

“I hope he doesn’t offer me free tickets to North End”, he quipped.

Mr Smith remained in a critical condition in Blackpool Victoria Hospital yesterday.

'We should all be prepared'

Bob Attewell said his tireless effort to keep Mr Smith alive was inspired by his own near-death experience whilst scuba diving.

In 2005, Bob was scuba diving in the Red Sea when he suffered a heart attack 30 metres below the waves.

“I was scuba diving with my daughters when I felt a sharp pain in my chest,” he said.

“I managed to swim to the surface but when I got back on the boat, we were still a two-hours from land.

“With the help of my daughters, I held on, and was saved by an Egyptian doctor. I know what it’s like to be in a life-or-death situation and how fragile life can be.”

The modest hero said he would like to see everyone take a course in CPR.

“It’s absolutely vital. You never know when you’re going to need it. It is quite literally a matter of life and death. I urge everyone to volunteer on a course. We should all be prepared.”