WATCH: Ex-policeman hailed a hero after saving neighbour’s life

A family have hailed their neighbour a hero after his quick actions helped save a life.

Colin Flannery and his wife Gail had been enjoying a quiet morning at their home in Madeira Avenue, Whitley Bay, on November 26 when Colin suddenly slouched over on the sofa after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Colin Flannery and his wife Gail, neighbour Derek Scott and North East Ambulance Service staff Claire Gilroy, Graeme Scott and Graham Curry.
 Picture by Jane Coltman

Colin Flannery and his wife Gail, neighbour Derek Scott and North East Ambulance Service staff Claire Gilroy, Graeme Scott and Graham Curry. Picture by Jane Coltman

After failing to get a response from her husband, Gail rang 999 before running across to her neighbour Derek Scott, who had just returned home from taking his wife to Newcastle Central Station.

Derek, who stayed on the phone with the emergency services, performed CPR and mouth-to-mouth rescucitation before the first responder paramedic arrived, joined a few minutes later by an ambulance.

Between them, they were able to restart Colin’s heart using a defibrillator and stablised him before taking him to the Northumbria emergency hospital in Cramlington.

And today (Friday) Colin and Gail thanked Derek and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) for their actions while highlighting the need for people to know how to perform CPR.

Colin Flannery and his wife Gail and neighbour Derek Scott.
 Picture by Jane Coltman

Colin Flannery and his wife Gail and neighbour Derek Scott. Picture by Jane Coltman

Colin, who was placed in an induced coma when he arrived at hospital, said: “I remember being on the settee on my iPad then waking up on Sunday in hospital from the coma.

“It was a total shock, I didn’t know what had happened.

“If it hadn’t been for Derek I don’t know what would have happened.

“I’m very lucky.”

Gail said: “If it wasn’t for Derek, Colin wouldn’t be here today. He was great.

“I still can’t get the scene out of my head.

“Derek is a hero. We got him a badge with ‘hero’ written on it.”

And the incident has brought the families closer together.

Colin, 57, joked: “I love him!

“When Derek came into the hospital to see me, I just threw my arms around him and said ‘thank you very much’.”

Colin, who has two sons who live in Australia, now has a defibrillator fitted to his heart which will shock it should it sense an irregulatory in the heart rythm.

“They say I may never need to use it,” he said.

“The doctors at the Freeman Hospital said I have a very healthy heart for a man of my age.”

Derek, 53, who was a police officer for 30 years with the Metropolitan and Northumbria forces, said: “My initial thought was Colin had fallen but when I got in the living room I saw he was slouched on the settee.

“I thought he had actually gone as he was purple.

“I got him on the floor and started CPR. It wasn’t textbook but I knew I had to get the blood flowing and air in him.

“After a short time doing CPR, he let out a huge gasp and I just continued for about five minutes until the paramedics arrived.”

Derek, who has lived on the street six years, said: “When you look at what could have happened it strikes a cord. I’m thankful it worked out very well.

“It could have been a totally different result.”

A modest Derek, who said he was no hero, added that it was important people knew how to perform CPR as you never know when you might need to use it.

Officials at the NEAS say it is vital people know how to perform CPR.

Graeme Scott, emergency care clinical manager and paramedic, and who was first on scene, said: “Derek’s role was crucial.

“Evidence suggests the earliest CPR is commenced, the increased chances of patient survival.

“I think it’s important that everybody learns CPR. A cardiac arrest can happen at any point, any time without warning.

“First aid should be on the National Curriculum.”

NEAS is backing a national campaign – Restart a Heart – later this year which encourages schools to sign up to first aid training and learn how to perform CPR.