Resuscitation Council (UK)

Community stories

‘Miracle Man’ saved by quick-thinking son

Son Oliver learned CPR in a school lesson 10 years prior to his father’s cardiac arrest. 

When 55 year old Neil Davidson went to bed on 31 July 2017, he wasn’t expecting to wake up in hospital. Were it not for the actions of his son, Oliver, he might not have woken up at all.

On July 31 2017, 25 year old Oliver went to sleep expecting to head back to Australia in the morning, where he lived and worked. In the middle of the night, he was awoken by his mother shouting for help.

At 3am Neil suffered a cardiac arrest in bed. His wife awoke to find him unresponsive and yelled for help, at which point his son Oliver came running in. Oliver had learned CPR in school when he was 16. He had never used it, or practiced it since the day he learned it - but when he saw his father in distress, he put his skills to use.

Oliver dragged Neil off of the bed and began CPR. He performed chest compressions for around 15 minutes while waiting for the emergency services to arrive. When the paramedics arrived, Neil was shocked four times with a defibrillator and taken to Calderdale Royal Infirmary, before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary. 

It was down to Oliver’s quick thinking and quick reactions that Neil survived his cardiac arrest - but Neil wasn’t out of the woods yet. He spent a further month in hospital while his family prepared for the worst. Neil had previously been diagnosed with a heart murmur, and was scheduled for surgery to correct a valve when his cardiac arrest occurred. Once in the hospital, he underwent open heart surgery and spent a month in the intensive care unit recovering. His doctors and nurses called him the ‘Miracle Man’ after he made a complete recovery. 

Neil Davidson.jpg

When asked about his experience, Neil doesn’t hesitate to express how lucky he is and how grateful he is for the quick reactions of his son Oliver. 

“The chance of me surviving at home in the bedroom would have been very low. Never mind that it was outside of hospital and the middle of the night. If my son hadn’t have been there I would have died.” 

“There is no doubt about it, him having learned CPR came in very useful on that morning. Being quick-thinking in dragging me off the bed, onto the floor and doing the CPR saved my life.”

His son is grateful also. He learned CPR at the age of 16 at Rishworth School in Halifax, with no expectation to ever need to use it. 

“By no means did I ever think I would have to do it in a real life situation nor on my actual dad. I certainly feel that more people of all ages should be encouraged to learn about CPR and the benefits it can have when faced in a life or death situation.”

Oliver Davidson 2.jpg
  • When someone has a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 7-10% (1)  
  • The chance of survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest can be increased two-to-threefold by the immediate provision of bystander CPR. (2) 
  • There are around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK per year. (3) 
  • AEDs are known to drastically boost survival rates of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. 
  • Defibrillation within 3–5 min can produce survival rates as high as 50%–70%. (4) 
  • Anyone can perform CPR, even if you haven’t had training. Ambulance dispatchers are able to give telephone instructions to help undertake chest compressions at the scene.


Neil 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. 

Neil owes his life to the CPR education his son received, and wants to ensure that the next generation of lifesavers are trained and ready to step into action when needed. 

He wants to give back and ensure more people are trained in CPR and know what to do in an emergency situation. Since his recovery, he has already visited Brooksbank School in Elland to talk to young people about his experience and the importance of learning CPR. 

If you would like to speak to Neil about his experience, or discuss a school visit, please contact Emily Pulham, Communications Officer, Resuscitation Council (UK) on 07506374945 or by emailing 

To learn or practise CPR, you can play award-winning Lifesaver anytime, anywhere at


(1) Holmberg M, Holmberg S, Herlitz J. Incidence, duration and survival of ventricular fibrillation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients in Sweden. Resuscitation 2000; 44:7-17. 

Larsen MP, Eisenberg MS, Cummins RO et al. Predicting survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a graphic model. Ann Emerg Med 1993; 22:1652-8. 

(2) Ambulance Service Association. National Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Project 2006. 

(3] Resuscitation to Recovery,

(4) ↵ Valenzuela TD, 2. Roe DJ, 3. Nichol G, et al : Outcomes of Rapid Defibrillation by Security Officers after Cardiac Arrest in Casinos. N Engl J Med 2000;343:1206–9. doi:10.1056/NEJM200010263431701  CrossRefPubMedWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar 

↵ 1. Blom MT, 2. Beesems SG, 3. Homma PC, et al :  Improved survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and use of automated external defibrillators. Circulation 2014;130:1868–75. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.010905   Abstract/FREE Full TextGoogle Scholar 

↵ 1. Ringh M, 2. Rosenqvist M, 3. Hollenberg J, et al : Mobile-phone dispatch of laypersons for CPR in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. N Engl J Med 2015;372:2316–25. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1406038  CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar 

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