THE importance of sharing the knowledge of first aid skills and access to emergency medical care in rural areas was highlighted again this week by Richard Sill’s story.

In his hour of need, as he fell ill at the roadside while cycling through Hexham, the consultant gynaecologist had more than one guardian angel come to his aid.

After suffering a mild heart attack which put him into cardiac arrest, a school bus driver and passing motorists worked together to administer CPR.

As luck would have it, two of those passers-by were nurses, and the life-saving teamwork began to keep him alive until the North East Ambulance Service ambulance crew arrived.

The story is nothing short of miraculous considering there are over 30,000 cardiac arrests a year outside of hospital in the UK, but the British Heart Foundation believes only one in 10 victims survive.

The British Red Cross has also said up to 59 per cent of deaths could be prevented in the UK if first aid was given prior to the arrival of medical services.

In Mr Sill’s case, the chest compressions delivered by the team of strangers helped to compensate for the irregular rhythm of his heart.

Thanks to the early intervention and exceptional care he received from our wonderful NHS, less than two months after the incident, he has made a full recovery, and is back riding his bike.

He has also been reunited with his rescuers and fully advocates the need for life-saving CPR skills to be taught within communities.

It will no doubt be celebrated that first aid lessons will become compulsory in schools throughout England from next year in a move which, many will agree, is long overdue.

Primary school children will be taught basic skills such as how to call emergency services while secondary school children will learn how to help someone who is suffering a cardiac arrest.