HuffPost UK is the media partner for the St John Ambulance Everyday Heroes awards on 7 October, which celebrates the nation’s life savers, health heroes and community stars. In this interview series we speak to people whose lives were saved, alongside those who saved them.
It was early in the morning and Paul Walsh was pottering around his home in Dover like any other day. He’d woken up early to wave off his granddaughter, who was heading to a university open day, and had gone upstairs to wake up his grandson, then 10.
When he came back downstairs, he was hit by an intense pain in his chest. “It virtually knocked me out and I fell onto the settee,” the 71-year-old recalls. “I knew it wasn’t good. I felt very cold and hot at the same time.”
His wife, Brenda, who was in a nearby room, rushed in to help him – and when she did, he was sprawled across the sofa having a heart attack. In a panic, she shouted upstairs to their grandson, Logan Chatfield.
“Nanny shouted, ‘Logan, something’s wrong with grandad’ so I went downstairs and saw him on the sofa,” Logan, who is now 11, tells HuffPost UK. “I was like: ‘Is he ok?’ He didn’t seem like grandad.”
At this point, Brenda froze. “But Logan, being Logan, took over,” Paul says proudly.
The youngster started issuing orders to “sort grandad out”, as he puts it – “I put him in the W position, helped him sit up, and also loosened his top, because he was wearing a shirt. I loosened the top of his collar, his chest and his belt.”
The W position, used specifically when a person is having a heart attack, involves leaning a person’s back against a wall (or a firm upright surface) with their knees bent and their head and shoulders supported. The position eases pressure on the heart, while also preventing injury if the person collapses.
At this point, says Logan, his nan was “upset, worried, and rushing around,” so he told her to phone 999 and ask for an ambulance – which she did.
“She passed me the phone while I was sorting out grandad and I was answering the questions,” he says. “And whilst I was doing that, she went to get the lady next door, who is a nurse, luckily.”
“It was scary because he’s family and I don’t want anything to happen to him.”
The youngster was so on-the-ball that, amid the chaos, he even remembered to call his school to let them know he wouldn’t be in. It was a Friday – the 6 July 2018 – so he didn’t want to get told off for not attending.
The ambulance arrived 10 minutes later and medical staff used a defibrillator on Paul’s chest. Moments later, he had to be rushed to hospital for emergency surgery. “It was scary because he’s family and I don’t want anything to happen to him,” says Logan of his grandad, who is also his legal guardian.
Paul spent five days in hospital before he was discharged, to his family’s huge relief.
When asked how he knew exactly what to do to help his grandad, Logan recalls: “Luckily, I did first aid training the week before. We learned how to deal with heart attacks. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have known what to do.”
The youngster had signed up as a St John Cadet that year because his sister did it. And the family credit that, as well as Logan’s calm and collected implementation of it, for saving Paul’s life.
He has now been nominated for a St John Ambulance Everyday Heroes award.
“It was amazing because from the time the ambulance arrived until when I was on the ward after the operation was four hours,” says Paul. “It was absolutely incredible. And as soon as I came around, I felt so much better.
“I feel so lucky because of Logan, obviously, he just took over. If he hadn’t done what he did, the chances are I might not be here now.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s my little hero.”