'Hero' who saved Preston North End star Paul Gallagher's father-in-law's life says he kept man's heart beating to tune of 'Stayin Alive'

A Preston North End star has issued a heartfelt thanks to the '˜hero' who kept his father-in-law alive.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 7th January 2019, 6:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 1:48 pm
Preston North End star Paul Gallagher in action against Doncaster
Preston North End star Paul Gallagher in action against Doncaster

Jimmy Smith, the father-in-law of PNE midfielder Paul Gallagher, collapsed as he filled the tyres of his car with air at a service station.

Fortunately for him, a quick-thinking local man who was trained in giving CPR leapt into action.

Bob Attewell performed CPR for 20 minutes at Lytham Service Station until paramedics arrived.

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Preston North End star Paul Gallagher in action against Doncaster

The modest hero then simply went home, leading to midfielder Gallagher launching a social media hunt to find him and thank him.

The 34-year-old Scot said the unknown ‘hero’ had saved his father-in-law’s life.

He posted: “My father-in-law’s heart had totally stopped for 20 minutes.

“Luckily, a bystander performed excellent CPR until the ambulance arrived and no doubt saved his life.

Bob Attewell performed CPR for 20 minutes at Lytham Service Station

“We have no contact details for this man, but would like to thank him.

“Thank goodness it happened at the petrol station and not at home alone. And thank God for that man.”

Mr Attewell, who is originally from Preston but now lives in Lytham Quays, said he had learned the techniques while training with Mountain Rescue.

“I ran over to him and the first thing I thought was, ‘He’s dead,’” said Bob, 67.

“He was absolutely blue, not breathing at all.

“There was no signs of life.

“People were stood around and no one knew what to do.”

But Bob did not hesitate. He swiftly put into practice the CPR training he had received with the Lake District Mountain Rescue four years ago.

After alerting 999, Bob rolled his sleeves up and got down to the job at hand.

“I just did what I’ve been trained to do.

“I got him into position and began with the chest compressions to keep his heart going”, said Bob.

“His heart had completely stopped. But I remembered my training and I just decided to keep it up until the ambulance came.”

Bob said the secret to saving Mr Smith’s life was a 1977 disco hit from the movie Saturday Night Fever.

“I was told in training that you should sing the song Stayin’ Alive when resuscitating someone, because the rhythm of the song matches the beat of the heart.

“It might sound silly, but I was singing Stayin’ Alive in my head the whole time I was administering the CPR. It did the trick.”

After several minutes of CPR, Bob said he heard a ‘low, hoarse sound’ escape from Mr Smith.

He was breathing again.

Bob said: “The gentleman would breathe, but then the breathing would stop again.

“He wasn’t out of the woods by a long shot, but there was hope. I just thought, ‘I am this man’s heart’.

“I had to keep it beating until help arrived.

“I was on the phone to the 999 operator at the same time, taking their advice and keeping them updated with what was happening.

“They kept telling me they were on the way, but it seemed to take forever.”

Nearly 20 minutes later, an air ambulance descended onto the forecourt, soon to be joined by three ambulances with senior clinicians on board.

But Bob was doing such a good job that he said he was tasked with continuing with the CPR whilst paramedics set up their lifesaving equipment.

He said: “It was a big commotion with the air ambulance landing and three ambulances rushing into the petrol station.

“I was relieved to see them and was happy to help out whilst they got the defibrillator ready. I carried on with the CPR for a few more minutes before the paramedics took over.”

Mr Smith remains in a critical condition in Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Gallagher said he will now reach out to Bob to personally express his gratitude.

But Bob, originally from Preston, sheepishly confessed he is a lifelong Bolton Wanderers fan.

“I hope he doesn’t offer me free tickets to North End”, he quipped.