'He looked at me and took his last breath': Barking and Dagenham gym trainers save elderly man's life
PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 June 2019
A pair of gym trainers from Barking and Dagenham used their first aid skills to act quickly and save an elderly man's life after he collapsed in Romford.
Michael Cowling and Michael Kayans were leafleting in Romford when they saw a man in his 70s collapse in the Oldchurch Underpass on Wednesday, May 29.
Mr Kayan told the Recorder: "We came across an elderly man who was carrying a large bag of compost.
"At first I thought he had fainted so I put him in the recovery position, but then I realised he was struggling to breathe.
"I started doing chest compressions about 20 to 30 seconds apart.
"He looked at me and took his last breath. His head fell backwards and I said to [a passerby] 'he's dead'.
"I started doing chest compressions again. He took a large gasp of breath and he came back.
"He was still struggling to breathe so I carried on doing chest compressions until the ambulance arrived."
Mr Kayan described the moment the man started breathing again as "incredible" and said that in these types of situations it's a case of flight or fight.
The 29-year-old from Barking added: "In that moment I didn't feel anything.
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"It was when I was walking back to the car and thought that a man had died in my arms that the shock kicked in."
While Mr Kayan carried out CPR, his colleague, Mr Cowling, 27, from Dagenham called the emergency services.
"There was a moment where he had stopped breathing and it was a little bit scary at the time, but [Mr Kayan] managed to bring him back," said Mr Cowling.
"By the time I finished calling the ambulance the quick response team was already there.
"We weren't even supposed to be going that way. It was just a spur of the moment decision to leaflet in that area.
"Fortunately we went into auto pilot and just went through our training."
The gym trainers work at the Chadwell Heath Gym in the Goodmayes Retail Park, Dagenham.
Mr Cowling said: "As a prerequisite to our jobs we have to be first aid trained.
"It's really important for us because when people are exercising and handling weights, they can have accidents.
"The advice I can give is to try and take up any kind of first aid training and make sure you keep it fresh."
The Metropolitan Police shared news of the incident on social media and explained that paramedics on the scene stated that the elderly man, "survived solely due to their efforts".