Off-duty paramedic gives CPR to his wife after she collapses at home

The family are encouraging people to learn how to perform CPR.

Cerys Wilkins, 48, with her husband Phil Wilkins, 50
Cerys Wilkins, 48, with her husband Phil Wilkins, 50

An off-duty paramedic gave life-saving CPR to his own wife after she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at their home.

Cerys Wilkins, 48, collapsed without warning on the landing after saying goodnight to her two children in Pentrebach, Wales.

Her husband Phil Wilkins, 50, who has been a paramedic for 16 years, heard a “thud” and rushed upstairs to help.

He gave chest compressions and rescue breaths to his wife while their daughter Ella, 18, dialled 999.

Colleagues from the Welsh Ambulance Service arrived at the house within six minutes and helped resuscitate Mrs Wilkins.

They delivered a shock with a defibrillator, which restarted the school nurse’s heart.

Cerys and her husband Phil
Cerys and her husband Phil (Welsh Ambulance Service/PA)

She was taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, where she is still undergoing treatment.

Her family is now urging everyone to learn life-saving CPR.

“At not one point through the whole ordeal did I think of it as my wife,” Mr Wilkins said.

“Instinct and training kicked in, and I just did what I had to do.

“It was only when the ambulance crew arrived did I take a step back – that’s when I fell to pieces.”

As a teenager, Mrs Wilkins was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), a condition where the heart suddenly beats much faster than normal.

Six years ago, she underwent a procedure called an ablation to fix the problem.

On October 9, the couple and their children Ella and Coel, 15, had celebrated Ella’s birthday with a small gathering in their back garden.

Cerys Wilkins and Phil with their children Ella, 18, and Coel, 15
Cerys Wilkins and Phil with their children Ella, 18, and Coel, 15 (Welsh Ambulance Service/PA)

“I’d been to say goodnight to the kids and had gone to get some ironing,” Mrs Wilkins said.

“The next thing I remember was being in the back of an ambulance, and Phil and the kids were looking at me upset.

“I still can’t quite believe what happened, even now.”

She said there was no warning – such as pain, palpitations or dizziness – before she collapsed.

It is hoped that Mrs Wilkins, a former paediatric nurse, will be fitted with a pacemaker and defibrillator before her discharge from hospital this weekend.

The family thanked the Welsh Ambulance Service as well as teams at the University Hospital for Wales for their care.

They are supporting the ambulance service’s annual Shoctober campaign, which encourages people to learn CPR.

“Every second counts when someone has a cardiac arrest, and what happened to Cerys just goes to show that it can happen to anyone, at any time,” Mr Wilkins said.

“I obviously knew what to do because of my profession, but imagine if I’d have not been there.

“By taking a few minutes to learn some basic CPR skills, you can also save someone’s life.”

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