Case Study: John - "I couldn't have had a cardiac arrest at a better place"

On 10 May 2022, John Martin, now aged 54, had just returned from a golfing holiday with friends when he experienced a sudden cardiac arrest at Luton Airport. Despite feeling fine when leaving the aeroplane, John collapsed at passport control.

Meanwhile, Emma Darker, now aged 29, and her friend Carl had just landed at Luton Airport. After reaching passport control, Emma made her way through the e-gates before Carl shouted in panic for her attention and ran to get her. He was alerting her to a man who had fallen over and was bleeding from his nose. Quickly explaining the situation to security, she was allowed back through to use her first aid training.

Emma said: "When I got to the man on the floor, he had been put in the recovery position. I checked for signs of life and realised he was in cardiac arrest. I asked a few border control officers to help me get him onto his back to begin CPR."

After opening his shirt and starting chest compressions, Emma then asked people nearby to locate a defibrillator. Once a defibrillator had been sourced, she swapped compressions with the airport deputy manager to begin setting up the defibrillator.

Using a defib was really straightforward. I followed the instructions, and it instructed me to shock. I asked everyone to move away and then delivered it.
Emma Darker

Having delivered a shock, Emma heard some choking from John's throat. She quickly realised his airway was blocked by blood from his nose due to the fall. The deputy manager of the airport continued compressions while Emma tilted the man's head to the side to help relieve his choking.

The airport deputy manager and Emma continued delivering basic life support, with the defibrillator now advising that a shock was not necessary. Fire and rescue teams soon arrived and stabilised the man's airway with equipment and continued with compressions until the paramedics arrived.

I was later told that I couldn't have had a cardiac arrest at a better place – I was very close to a defib and was near someone who knew exactly what to do.
John Martin

John added: "If anything had changed, I wouldn't be talking right now."

John was moved to Luton and Dunstable Hospital for a few weeks and then moved to Harefield where he spent more time in recovery. He has since made a full recovery with some lifestyle adjustments.

John and Emma have seen each other three times since that morning, sharing stories and meeting each other's family. Emma added: "Our families are lifelong friends, and we intend to keep raising awareness as much as possible."