IT WAS an emotional reunion for a Warwickshire man and the firefighter who saved his life.
Steve Taylor presented Pip Blair with a bouquet at Winchcombe Farm – where he runs a holiday retreat business – in Upper Tysoe.
The 64-year-old collapsed during a blaze at the farm in January, which raged for more than five hours.
Pip, who was among several crews called to the scene, managed to resuscitate Steve after administering CPR for more than 20 minutes.
Steve, who has suffered two previous heart attacks, is now continuing his recovery at home after undergoing a triple heart bypass. He has also had a defibrillator fitted in his heart.
He said: “Pip is a very special person.
“On the night of the fire I remember my sight going and collapsing onto the stone slabs. Then my heart stopped for three minutes. The next thing I remember was Pip’s warm arms above me and a feeling of safety.
“I knew I had come back from a cold, dark, silent place. It was a surreal experience and I owe her my life.”
Pip, who previously worked in the Ambulance Service, had to shock Steve three times following his collapse.
She said: “It’s pretty rare to get someone back from cardiac arrest of the extent that Steve had suffered. I’ve only had one other similar case where they survived in my seven years in the ambulance and fire service. He was a very lucky man.
“It was the most amazing feeling when he finally came round. I asked him to squeeze my hand and he did. Then he started talking and at this point I called Jo over. Everyone was so relieved.”
She revealed it was rare for such a reunion following a rescue operation.
She added: “It was so lovely to see him again the other day. When I walked in, there were big smiles, he gave me a big hug and we had a really long chat. It was quite emotional really.
“The worst part about my job is we do the best we can to help people, whether it’s putting a fire out or administering first aid, and then go and don’t see the aftermath of it all, so it’s good to know there’s a happy ending to this one.”
The family of four is still counting the cost of the blaze which was started by an ember from their log burner. They are living in one of their guest lodges while repairs take place.
Steve’s wife and business partner Jo Carroll said the family was overwhelmed by the kindness of the community.
She explained: “They’ve helped us move into our temporary home, until our own home is repaired and helped us with everything from replacing school uniform to books and toys for our children.
“There are no words to express the gratitude and thanks we have to Pip and her colleagues from the Fire Service. We are forever indebted to them for everything they did to help us that night. I still have a husband and my children still have a father because of them.”
The couple presented Rugby Fire Station Manger Andy Paxton with a cheque for the Firefighters Charity. And they have already already purchased a defibrillator for the farm, with plans to roll out free first aid training across the team – delivered by friend and former holiday guest Gill Cleeve.
Gill, who will become Mayor of Stratford in May, said: “In the UK there are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests a year and the survival rate is low – just 1 in 10 people in the UK survive. However early CPR and defibrillation can double the chances of survival, this is why knowledge of CPR and access to a defibrillator is vital, so we can change those statistics.”