Published on: 24 May 2023

A nurse who helps treat heart patients joined in rescue efforts to save a man’s life by giving him CPR while off duty.

Sarah Watson, a Junior Sister at Sunderland Royal Hospital, stepped in to help John Walker after he became ill at the wheel of his parked car.sarah watson.JPG

The incident happened on March 11 in Dykelands Road, Seaburn, after the 69-year-old had a cardiac arrest.

Sarah joined off duty Northumbria Police Detective Constable, Paddy Little and Police Constable, Jonathan Buckster, of Durham Constabulary, who also stopped to help.

The trio worked together to remove John from his car and immediately administer first-aid and life-saving CPR until an ambulance arrived at the scene.

Further emergency service colleagues arrived within minutes, and John was swiftly blue-lighted to hospital for emergency treatment.

John and his wife Jean later presented Sarah with flowers and chocolates to say thank you for her quick actions.

They have also been reunited with the officers, as they too were recognised for their heroic response.

Speaking after the reunion, John said:

"It was difficult for me to remember what had happened at first – and it took me quite a few days after having two heart attacks for it to sink in properly while I was in hospital.
"I know that I had started shivering and not making sense before taking ill while I was in my car parked up at the Seaburn coast, waiting for my wife Jean.
"I just feel very lucky that Paddy, Jonathan and Sarah were there to help me – and to all of the emergency services who arrived so quickly and were absolutely fantastic with me and Jean.
"We are so grateful for their amazing support and I can’t thank them enough for saving my life. Never will I forget them."

John Walker rescue.jpg

Detective Constable Patrick Little, John Walker, Jean Walker and PC Jonathan Buckster as they were reunited.

Sarah, who has worked for Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust for the last two years, said:

"I was just out for a walk. I saw the car had pulled over and a lady making a phone call. She looked distressed so I went to see what had happened.

"I was asked to help pull the man out of the car and then started CPR. We all kept going until the ambulance arrived

"The nurses caring for him at hospital let him ring me and his wife later bought me flowers and chocolates, which was lovely.

"I don’t think anyone else would have done anything different to what we did. It’s nice to know he’s now doing well."

Melanie Johnson, the Trust’s Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, said:

"We are hugely proud of Sarah’s action to help save this man’s life alongside these off duty officers.

"Our staff go above and beyond every day in their jobs, but this shows the skills they learn can be put into action at any time. It’s never too late to learn CPR and you never know when it can be used to help save a life.

"We are pleased to hear Mr Walker is making a good recovery and wish he and his wife well following what must have been a very upsetting experience."

Information on CPR skills can be found by clicking here