NEWS: “I’m ready to celebrate Christmas,” tells cardiac arrest car crash victim to life saving off duty Erdington paramedics

Words by Ed King / Photographs supplied by WMAS (group photo, left to right: Abi Conlin, Roy Taylor, Colin Cady, Bea Cady, Grace Harris, Maria Johnson)

On the run up to Christmas, two off duty Erdington paramedics have been reunited with a man whose life they saved after he suffered a potentially fatal cardiac arrest.

In October, Colin Cady was driving through Sutton Coldfield when his heart stopped pumping – forcing him to lose control of his vehicle and crash into a tree.

Luckily, off-duty Erdington paramedics Maria Johnson and Roy Taylor were passing at the time of the accident and immediately rushed to Colin’s aid – administering essential cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and roadside assistance until an ambulance arrived.

Now just days away from 25 December, Mr Cady was reunited with the lifesaving duo – wanting to thank them for helping him survive the ordeal and giving him the chance to celebrate another Christmas with his family.

Mr Cady told: “There really are no words to say thank you to those who saved my life that day. I count myself incredibly lucky that multiple off-duty emergency service staff were there at that moment, and that they came over to help me.

“Thanks to their actions, I’ve been able to celebrate my 53rd birthday recently and I’m ready to celebrate Christmas this year, one that I wouldn’t have seen if it weren’t for the fantastic work of the emergency services staff and staff caring for me in hospital.”

As defined by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), a cardiac arrest is when the ‘heart stops pumping blood’ and the ‘brain is starved of oxygen’ – causing the victim ‘to fall unconscious and stop breathing.’

Early CPR can be pivotal in keeping someone in cardiac arrest alive, with the BHF further stating: ‘In the UK there are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) a year… just 1 in 10 people survive. Early CPR and defibrillation can double the chances of surviving an OHCA.’

After witnessing the car crash, Maria Johnson and Roy Taylor rushed to Mr Cady’s aid – using both their medical training and a nearby Public Access Defibrillator to keep him alive whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Maria Johnson said: “It’s lovely to see Colin under such positive circumstances. It’s also such an important moment to appreciate just how fantastic bystander CPR and AEDs are.

“In this case we were able to assist with saving a patient’s life, not as ambulance staff but as bystanders, which is something that anyone with good CPR knowledge could do.”

Roy Taylor added: “While passing by and witnessing the incident, it was natural to go over and see if I could help at all, then seeing Maria there too was an incredible stroke of luck.

“Maria and I know each other well and have years of experience behind us so we both went into autopilot and tried to help Colin to the best of our ability while an ambulance was being called.”

On Wednesday 21 December, thousands of ambulance staff across the UK were involved in industrial action over rates of pay and working conditions – with the government refusing to engage in negotiations.

Despite the mass strikes, according to West Midlands Ambulance Servive ‘staff were left working to respond to respond to the most urgent calls such as cardiac arrests and other very serious cases such as heart attacks, strokes, difficulty in breathing and maternity cases.’

Some healthcare trusts and unions have scheduled further strike for 28 December and January 2023.

What is cardiac arrest? – British Heart Foundation

To learn more about cardiac arrest and CPR from the British Heart Foundation visit:   

For more from West Midlands Ambulance Service visit: