A rugby fan from Wrexham who has suffered two cardiac arrests is urging people to learn CPR after quick responses to both events saved his life.

Save a Life Cymru is encouraging more of us to learn lifesaving CPR with its ‘touch someone’s life’ campaign, which launched today on Restart a Heart Day.

A huge 80% of cardiac arrests happen in the home and can happen to anyone at any age. Save a Life Cymru is encouraging everybody to learn CPR and have the power to save a loved one in their hands.

Phil Nunnerley, 74, had no known health issues until his first cardiac arrest in 2015, when he was 69.

He and his partner Rosemary were getting on a Park and Ride bus at Twickenham after the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup when Phil suddenly collapsed.

A GP who happened to be on the bus performed CPR on Phil until they arrived at the Park and Ride, where an ambulance was waiting to take him to hospital.

Phil said: “My cardiac arrest was a complete surprise to me and my wife. I remember leaving the stadium and walking towards the bus stop, but everything after we got onto the bus is missing. As soon as we sat down, I keeled over – I’m sure I got some funny looks from the other people on the bus.

“I was incredibly lucky that the gentleman who got on the bus behind us in his Gloucester Rugby shirt happened to be a GP.

“He saved my life. He started giving me CPR right away and told the bus driver to put his foot down, while his wife phoned an ambulance to meet us at the Park and Ride near Kempton Park. When we arrived the first responders took over, they used a defibrillator and took me to hospital.

“I was unconscious for quite a long time, doctors were worried that the lack of oxygen to my brain could have caused permanent damage.

“Receiving CPR when I did helped to prevent that from happening, and kept me alive. I was taken to theatre where I had a stent fitted and recovered well. I even managed to track down the GP who saved me and took him and his wife out to the rugby as a thank you.”

Phil suffered his second cardiac in November 2018, this time after leaving Cardiff’s Principality Stadium where he and Rosemary had been watching Wales play Scotland in the Autumn Internationals.

Phil continued: “We were waiting at the traffic lights to turn out of the Sophia Gardens carpark onto Cathedral Road. I asked Rosemary to change the radio station and she asked what I wanted to listen to. When I didn’t reply she looked over and realised right away that I’d had another cardiac arrest. She pulled the car over and called for help.”

Once again, luck was on Phil’s side. The GoodSam Responder App had just launched in Wales and alerts were sent out to two first responders who were attending a judo event in the nearby Welsh Institute of Sport. They were on the scene performing CPR within two minutes until a medic and ambulance arrived.

Phil said: “I feel incredibly lucky to still be here. I was in an induced coma for several days and under observation for another week before going into surgery to have my Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) installed. I’m generally well at the moment, my ICD transmits information about my heart rhythm to my doctors and they tell me it hasn’t had to do anything yet. If I hadn’t received CPR so quickly at both events, I wouldn’t be here today. Any delay at all would have starved my brain of oxygen. I have other people’s quick thinking – including that of my partner – to thank for the fact that I’m still here.”

Phil’s partner Rosemary learned CPR after his first cardiac arrest so she would know what to do if it happened again. She recommends that everyone learns CPR, knowing first-hand what a difference it can make.

Rosemary said: “My first reaction to Phil’s first cardiac event was disbelief. I had no idea it could just happen with no prior symptoms and no pain. He didn’t even gasp, he just collapsed, it was unbelievable. I was grateful both times to have experts around us who knew what they were doing, I can’t thank them enough for their help. But I know that, if we’d been alone or there hadn’t been any first responders nearby, I could have performed CPR on Phil during his second cardiac arrest and I could do it in the future if I ever need to.”

Save a Life Cymru is committed to improving the chances of survival for people who suffer a cardiac arrest in the community by providing people in Wales with an opportunity to learn lifesaving CPR skills.

The ‘Touch Someone’s Life’ campaign is laying the foundation for saving lives across Wales by encouraging everybody to take an interest in learning CPR. As part of the campaign, a new CPR training video has been created which can be found on its website.

By raising awareness of the need for prompt CPR at the scene of a cardiac arrest in the community, and encouraging everyone across Wales to develop their CPR and defibrillation skills, Save a Life Cymru hopes to increase the numbers of people who are comfortable and willing to perform CPR and use a defibrillator and have a positive effect on survival rates.

Len Nokes, Emeritus Professor and Chair of Save a Life Cymru said: “Each and every one of us has the power to save a life. Performing CPR and using a defibrillator can make the difference between a full recovery and someone not leaving the hospital. Too many of us have either never learned these life-saving skills or don’t have the confidence to use them if we needed to.

“Learning CPR and using a defibrillator is easy. With the majority of cardiac arrests taking place in the home, we can make a real difference to survival rates in Wales simply by increasing the number of people who are able and willing to perform CPR and use a defibrillator on a loved one.”

For more information, search Save a Life Cymru.