Firefighter saves life with defib in street

Derek Mair spotted the woman on the ground as he drove home. Picture: contributed
Derek Mair spotted the woman on the ground as he drove home. Picture: contributed
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AN off-duty firefighter’s quick-thinking use of a defibrillator has helped to save the life of an elderly woman who suffered a heart attack in the street.

Retained firefighter Derek Mair was driving back from the cinema with his wife, Jayne, through West Port, Linlithgow, on Wednesday night when they spotted the woman lying on the ground.

The couple stopped the car and Jayne, a former nurse, began to give chest compressions to the casualty, who had been receiving CPR from another off-duty nurse at the scene.

Mr Mair rushed to Linlithgow Fire Station, where he has served for 32 years, to grab a life-saving defibrillator in a desperate bid to restart the woman’s heart.

He said: “We got the machine attached and it showed there wasn’t a rhythm so obviously we shocked.

“We actually went through three cycles, with Jayne and the nurse swapping between doing the chest compressions and operating the bag valve mask.”

An ambulance arrived 
minutes later and the three good samaritans stayed to help paramedics who stabilised the woman and took her to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The Linlithgow couple were delighted to hear the following day that the woman had survived.

Mr Mair said: “Obviously you wonder how the person has got on. It was great to get a text message from her grandson the next day saying she had pulled through.

“That was terrific news and both Jayne and I listened to the message a few times.

“We’d obviously like to wish her and her family all the best and really hope that she makes a full recovery soon.”

Paramedics said their intervention was crucial in saving the woman’s life, but Mr Mair said he was not conscious of the importance of his actions at the time as adrenaline had taken over.

He said: “You’re busy doing what you can to help the casualty then you’re giving the paramedics all the information, so it’s only afterwards that you come down from the adrenaline high and start to think about it.”

Anyone suffering a heart attack outside hospital is three times more likely to survive if one of the heart-start machines is nearby.

The Evening News has teamed up with the family of 13-year-old Jamie Skinner, who collapsed and died while playing football, to launch the Shockingly Easy campaign to ensure defibrillators are installed in every sports centre in the Lothians.

The life-saving potential of the machines has been praised by Peter Murray, assistant chief officer at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

ACO Murray said: “The fact is no-one ever knows when an emergency will happen.

“Alongside an off-duty nurse they made an incredible difference and meant a family did not lose a mother and grandmother on Wednesday night.”


THE News has joined the family of Jamie Skinner in launching the Shockingly Easy campaign. We hope to ensure there is a life-saving defibrillator in every Lothian sports centre. Here’s how to help:

• Make a donation or fundraise for a defibrillator Cheques payable to The Jamie Skinner Foundation can be sent to Shockingly Easy, The Edinburgh Evening News, Orchard Brae House, 30 Queensferry Road, EH4 2HS.

• Volunteer to take a defibrillator course at your sports club

• Learn CPR skills

If you can help, e-mail

Clubs involved so far include:

• Easthouses FC

• Edinburgh South FC

• Kirkliston & South Queensferry FC

• Lauriston Thistle FC

• Leith Athletic FC

• Loanhead Miners Youth FC

• Sighthill Bowling Club

• Silverknowes Golf Club