Call handler 'saved my husband's life'

Family photo Galloway

A woman who performed CPR on her husband has sent a heartfelt thanks to the call handler who saved his life after giving instructions over the phone.

Karen Galloway, 42, of Cambuslang, Glasgow, has praised call handler, Sarah Mark, and said her husband would not be alive today if not for her actions on September 28, 2021.

She said: “Sarah saved my husband's life and because of that our sons still have their Dad and I can't thank her enough. She was amazing; she was not only my husband's guardian angel that night but our family’s.” 

Describing the “terrifying” incident, Karen said she was at home with Alan, 46, and sons, Cameron and Nathan. Alan had “gone about his day and evening as normal”, before she noticed part of his speech sounded “slurred”.

She added: “He said he felt fine and he looked fine. He then went into kitchen but as our son Cameron was at the top of the stairs he heard a noise, he ran down then he called for me.

“By the time I got downstairs, he had stopped physically seizing but his mouth was clamped shut and his limbs and hands ridged. His eyes were open. I asked him if he was ok; he made a noise and squeezed my hand. He then closed his eyes and went into what we thought was a sleep. I put him in the recovery position.”

Karen said she called for an ambulance, as Alan was having “more frequent seizures”, and his breathing was not normal. Sarah, a call handler based at The Scottish Ambulance Service’s East Ambulance Control Centre in South Queensferry, answered.

Karen added: “Sarah was fantastic; she was very calm, reassuring me I was doing a good job and I was doing everything ok. She then asked me to let her know every time Alan took a breath in and out. I knew his breathing wasn't right; it was getting longer between breaths and longer exhaling.

“She told me an ambulance was on its way with blue lights and siren. I was terrified on the inside as our two sons could see Alan was struggling.”

Karen was asked by Sarah to start giving instructions for CPR over the phone.

She added: “I was petrified because I knew what was coming next. She asked me to get him on to his back and tilt his head back to open airway. She asked me again to count his breaths in and out. I knew she was going to say he needs help and needs CPR but never in a million years did I think it would be me doing it.

“Sarah said ‘I need you to listen to me as you need to start CPR, count with me 1,2,3,4.’

Our two sons where hysterical at this point and I had to say to our oldest son Cameron ‘I need you to stay calm, go see your brother. I need to be able to hear the instructions from Sarah loud and clear to help your Dad’.”

After telling Sarah she was ready, Karen started to give CPR. She added: “With each chest compression, I kept saying to myself ‘please God don't take him from me, not yet’, and by the grace of God he started breathing normally and came round. I have never felt so sick, relieved all at once.”

Just as he had come round the ambulance crew - Amanda Clark, Paramedic and Audrey Gillies, Paramedic, both of Hamilton Station, along with Melanie Mcdevitt, Paramedic of Springburn Station, arrived after being dispatched by Mandy Brogan.

Karen said: “I have never been so relieved to see an ambulance crew in all my life. The ambulance crew were amazing. They came in, took over, and were continually telling Alan and I what they were doing. 

“Members of our family had arrived and one ambulance crew member went out and spoke to all the family, reassuring them he was okay and what they were doing and where they would take him. 


“The service from the call handler to the ambulance crew was amazing, I can't fault them. Thank you just doesn't seem enough. To all the ambulance crew and Sarah a million thank yous. This has shown us just how precious life is and not take it for granted. ”

Posted on 12/10/2021