Herbie the hero! - Sheffield teenager saves dad's life he suffers heart attack at home

Jumping out of bed in a haze to his mother's screams, 15-year-old Herbie Colton went into auto-pilot and ended up saving his dad's life.

Sunday, 15th October 2017, 16:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 01:21 am
All smiles: Hero Herbie with dad Nigel. The 15-year-old saved his dad's life when he performed CPR on him after he suffered a heart attack at their Mosborough home. Picture: Andy Roe/The Star

Jumping out of bed in a haze to his mother's screams, 15-year-old Herbie Colton went into auto-pilot and ended up saving his dad's life.

He would be forgiven at that age for lying in bed until the early afternoon on a May Bank Holiday Monday. But the Sheffield teenager turned life-saver after his dad Nigel had a heart attack in their home.

Herbie learned CPR while undertaking his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. Picture: Andy Roe/The Star

His heart stopped for 11 minutes and If it wasn't for his quick intervention, the 52-year-old would be dead.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"It was really surreal," said Herbie, of Mosborough.

"I was fast asleep in bed and next thing I hear is my mum shouting 'your dad is dead!'

"I thought it was a dream at first, I didn't even look at her I just rushed into the room. I didn't really think about it I just started CPR and went from there."

Herbie learned CPR while undertaking his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. Picture: Andy Roe/The Star

Herbie knew he had to keep going until the ambulance crew arrived and managed to keep the chest compressions going for eight minutes until paramedics took over.

Paramedic Marcus Stent was first on scene followed by ambulance crew Tina Lichtveld and Charlie Bartlett. They used a defibrillator and eventually Nigel’s heart stared beating again. He was transferred to Northern General Hospital in Sheffield where he stayed for 12 days.

Nigel was rushed to the Northern General Hospital and paramedics, nurses and doctors were all lining up thank Herbie. But the teenager had the Duke of Edinburgh scheme he undertook at Eckington School to thank.

But Herbie is labelled the 'reluctant hero' by his dad and the teenager offers a very humble take on the whole thing.

"I got to the hospital and everyone was shaking my hand and saying how well I did. I understand why people say I'm a hero but I'm not the type of person to go around bragging about it.

"I'm just glad my dad's okay, that's the main thing."

Speaking from his home, Nigel said he 'blacked out' and can't remember the events of what took place. He's heard plenty about it from his wife Joanne and Herbie since.

The 52-year-old was initially up that morning but went back to bed after complaining of what he thought was severe indigestion and a pain in his arm which he put down to overdoing it at the gym the day before.

Joanne, down in the kitchen 'lounging about on Facebook' as Nigel put it, decided to head back upstairs and do some work from home.

But as the fashion designer headed to her work room, she heard a 'really strange noise'.

"Others I've spoke to since about this since refer to it as your last gargle and last gasp for breath, a really horrible wheezing noise," Nigel added.

"She came in to the bedroom and at first she thought I was joking around - she picked my arm up and it flopped on the bed. She then realised by eyes were rolling back.

"Obviously she then panicked and started screaming and that's when Herbie bolted out of bed and got to work.

Nigel was sedated as doctors worked to stabilise him. A nurse told Joanne to contact the rest of his family fearing the worst at this point.

Four months on and Nigel feels lucky not just to be alive, but not suffer from any mental scars of the incident.

He's now back in the gym, running, cycling and has now learnt CPR himself - all of which he wouldn't be able to do without Herbie's quick thinking on that May morning.

"I'm so grateful, it's really hard to put into words without sounding really corny. If things hadn't fallen into place, the rare course of events of how it panned out - I can't say I'd be here now," Nigel said.

"Everybody was shocked I had a heart attack - but I suppose you hear about footballer who collapse on the pitch so it affects fit people as well."

The 15-year-old, who will sit his GCSEs next summer, is being recognised today by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service at a special awards ceremony at Magna Science Adventure Centre.

And Herbie is backing a scheme which the Yorkshire Ambulance Service are rolling out across 13 secondary schools to teach CPR to children.

"Everyone should learn CPR - you don't know when you're going to use it. It's not hard to learn either - it's pretty much pushing down on somebody's chest.

"Without me learning CPR, my dad would probably be dead - I'm grateful I knew what to do when it happened."

Nigel added the education bosses in this country should look across to Scandinavia on how they adopt CPR training.

"In Sweden, it's part of the curriculum in school and it's not just that they teach it and then that's it - they refresh it every year.

"The survival rate is pretty poor if you have a heart attack outside of hospital but they're showing signs in Sweden that the longer it's going on the survival rate is improving.

"If they could do it over here, more people could be saved. They do a lot of things at school which they aren't particularly thrilled about doing so CPR could be a vital skill they learn."

Paramedic Tina, who is based at Batemoor Ambulance Station, said: “Herbie was performing excellent CPR and all three of us felt that he was exceptionally brave to do what he did on his own father. Herbie absolutely deserves to be recognised for his outstanding actions in the scariest situation.

“What Herbie did just reinforces the value of young people learning this skill, whether it is with Yorkshire Ambulance Service on Restart a Heart Day or through initiatives like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.”

Thousands of school children will follow Herbie's lead and receive free training in CPR across Yorkshire.

Some 13 secondary schools across Sheffield are taking part in the Restart a Heart Day scheme which will see Yorkshire Ambulance Service volunteers teach children the vital life-saving skill today.

The schools that are taking part are:

All Saints Catholic High School

Al-Mahad Al-Islami

Aston Academy

Bents Green Specialist Secondary School

Ecclesfield School

Handsworth Grange Community Sports College

High Storrs School

King Edward VII School

Notre Dame High School

Outwood Academy City

Parkwood Academy

Penistone Grammar School

Yewlands Academy