Retired Tameside teacher thanks paramedics for saving his life
Thursday 12th May 2016 @ 13:52 by Adam Higgins
News Stalybridge

A former Tameside head teacher has said a heart-felt thank you to his lifesavers.

Jim Joyce, a retired head teacher at Copley High School in Stalybridge, was at a football club board meeting when he suffered a sudden heart attack and collapsed.

Miraculously, one of the next items on the board agenda was to discuss how to use the club’s new defibrillator.

Jim’s colleagues raced for the machine, which was still in its box, read the instructions and immediately went to work.

They dialled 999 and followed advice on how to carry out vital CPR before using the device to restore Jim’s normal heart rhythm.

Jim, fit and well now after his ordeal, said: “My heart went into over-drive, started to flutter and stopped. For all intents and purposes I was dead.

“Apparently I was talking and cracking jokes and then I collapsed.

“If it had happened anywhere where there was not a defibrillator, I could have died.”

A North West Ambulance Service crew was quickly on the scene to continue treating Jim before taking him to Tameside Hospital.

Paramedic Andy Birch, from Oldham, and emergency medical technician Joanne Gifford, who lives in Hyde, responded to the 999 call from their base in Dukinfield.

Now Jim, 66, has been reunited with the pair to thank them personally for helping to save his life.

He had been at the meeting at Glossop North End FC where club chairman Dave Atkinson had taken the lead in his treatment.

Dave said: “Mick Wray, a North End director, went for the machine, we ripped open Jim’s shirt and started to work on him, and we rang 999.

“We did not really know how the defibrillator worked, we just followed the instructions.”

Praising Dave and the other board members for doing ‘a fantastic job’,  Andy said it meant they could start helping Jim’s breathing immediately they arrived.

He said: “It’s great to see Jim so well; it’s rare we get the opportunity to meet a patient after an incident, so thanks to him for getting in touch.”

Jim added: “A big thank you to Dave for using the defibrillator, the call taker for calming everyone down, the crew for arriving so quickly and the hospital for getting me through it – I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

Jim thanked his lifesavers at an emotional reunion held at the club’s Surrey Street home last week, having suffered the heart attack in September last year.

The attack came out of the blue for super fit Jim, who lives in Hadfield with his wife Pat, 65.

Both are keen walkers and had only recently returned from a 120 mile hike along Hadrian’s Wall when Jim suffered the attack.

The couple thanked everyone  and described hospital staff as ‘fantastic’.

For every minute defibrillation is delayed, chances of survival decrease by 10 per cent.

Defibrillators can ‘shock’ a person’s heart into restarting and if this can be done in the vital first few minutes, patients have a 60 to 70 per cent chance of making a full recovery.


By David Jones