Chris Kendall did everything he could to save a life on June 25, 2017. While he was driving along the A1 in Scotland, he saw a man being pulled out of his car on the side of the road.
Kendall, a firefighter for the Kent Fire Department and former CPR instructor, got right to work. His training kicked in, and without missing a beat he was pulling his car over to lend a hand.
Allan Hainey, a 59-year-old man, suffered a massive heart attack while driving. Fortunately, he wasn’t involved in an accident, and there was no collateral damage as a result of his episode.
But the situation was dire for Hainey. As emergency crews scrambled, the clock on Hainey’s life appeared to be ticking down to nil.
Firefighter Chris Kendall performed CPR on Allan Hainey for 15 minutes after Hainey suffered a massive heart attack.
Providing CPR is an exhausting endeavor, and whenever possible, responders are instructed to take turns to preserve their energy and lung capacity. For a single person to apply CPR for 15 minutes is an incredible show of endurance.
Hainey wasn’t breathing when Kendall arrived on the scene. But by pumping to the tune of “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, he gave Hainey a fighting chance at doing just that.
Hainey was whisked away to the hospital and Kendall went about the rest of his day, wondering what became of the man he had poured so much energy into saving.
The next day he asked a police officer familiar with the incident and was devastated by the response.
Hainey hadn’t made it.
Thinking that the stranger he’d worked so diligently to save had passed away in the hospital, Kendall didn’t press any further for details. As such, he was totally unaware that Hainey was actually recovering in the Edinburgh Infirmary.
There was some kind of misunderstanding between Kendall and the officer he had asked about Hainey’s status. Hainey, who works in IT for the Scotland Police, wasn’t out of the woods in terms of his health, but he was very much alive.
Need New Year's resolutions inspiration? How about firefighter Chris Kendall who carried out CPR at the road-side, saving a man's life. Learn #CPR in 2018 – life-saving skills that could make the difference to someone's life #RestartaHeart @TheBHF https://t.co/Gv7dEOUWt1 #2018 pic.twitter.com/qH2D10X98J
— Kent Fire and Rescue (@kentfirerescue) December 29, 2017
Five months passed between the date of the incident and the moment Kendall’s phone buzzed with a text message from Allan Hainey. It was a surreal moment in which Hainey describes his heart attack as “a bit of a heart episode.”
“I couldn’t stop smiling when I got his message,” Kendall said. “I was jumping up and down. I couldn’t be happier that he’s alive.”
Five months later, Kendall got an unexpected text message from a very much alive Allan Hainey, thanking him for saving his life.
This year while driving I came across what looked like an RTC. Stopped to assist and there was a gentleman being dragged out of a car. It was apparent he wasn’t well and had stopped breathing. I gave him CPR for approx 15 minutes. Just got this text! Best news ever!! pic.twitter.com/iizbEZ0cjM
— Chris Kendall (@ChrisKendall85) November 20, 2017
Kendall had consoled himself with the fact that he’d done his best to save Hainey’s life. But hearing he’d passed away had come as a major disappointment. So his excitement at the news that Hainey was still alive was understandable.
“You stopped, assisted, and by all accounts from the doctors/surgeons at the Edinburgh Infirmary, saved my life,” Hainey wrote in his text message.
Kendall posted the text message on his Twitter account and shortly thereafter, amid a number of congratulations, people who know Hainey personally started thanking Chris for what he’d done.
This was my uncle we are so thankful u were there that day x
— wendy mearns (@wendyackles) November 21, 2017
Brilliant Chris. I work with Allan and it was great to be able to hear his story at our Christmas night out 👍
— David McElroy (@dmcelroy) December 28, 2017
Hainey isn’t totally in the clear, as the heart attack was so big that it left him with three holes in his heart. But he has another chance at life, and he intends to make the most of it.
With his 60th birthday coming up, he asked Kendall if he could recommend any charities linked to the fire service that he could ask people to donate to instead of buying him gifts.
“I don’t want presents—being here is enough,” Hainey wrote.
Kendall was, of course, invited to the party too.