Case Study: Benjamin - "If you can set up an iPhone, you can set up a defib"

When 17-year-old Benjamin Culff went to start his morning shift at a restaurant on 13 August 2017, he wasn’t expecting to wake up in hospital. Were it not for the quick thinking of his work colleagues, he might not have woken up at all.

From 2010 to 2017, Benjamin had been suffering from a series of unexplained fits, with not much clear indication as to what was causing them. On 13 August 2017, when Benjamin was working at a restaurant in Tamworth, Staffordshire, he went downstairs to collect some glasses, and that is the last thing he remembers that night. Benjamin had collapsed and was found unconscious by his colleagues, by which time it became very clear that Ben had endured a cardiac arrest.

Thankfully, his colleague was able to start performing CPR, although he had not had any formal CPR training, and a defibrillator was brought over from the restaurant reception. Together, following the instructions of the defibrillator machine, Benjamin’s colleagues administered two shocks to his body, and luckily the second attempt brought him back to life just as the paramedics were arriving. 

Benjamin only remembers waking up in the Royal Stoke Hospital two days later, with a very patchy memory. After three days, Benjamin was feeling fine and back to normal. He stayed in hospital for 11 days and was given an implantable defibrillator known as an ICD. The matchbox-sized device was implanted into his chest to monitor for irregular heartbeats.

Benjamin has since been diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, which can trigger abnormal heart rhythms. His mum and his older brother also found out that they have the condition, but they are at a lower risk.

Benjamin now uses this experience to campaign for more defibs and better first aid training.

Don’t be afraid of what’s happening in front of you, if you’re there and that person needs your help then it’s what you’ve got to do. If you can set up an iPhone, you can set up a defib.
Benjamin Culff

Benjamin continued: "The person suffering a cardiac arrest is clinically dead and you must do what you can to help them."

He is one of the lucky ones as someone near him knew what to do in an emergency - but he knows that every year, thousands of people aren’t as lucky.

Benjamin owes his life to the CPR education his colleague had known, and wants to use his experience to campaign relentlessly for more defibs and to ensure that the next generation of lifesavers are trained and ready to step into action when needed.