By Hollie Bone
A retired copper suffering a life-threatening heart attack was amazed after the first responder dispatched to his 999 call was his former colleague and pal of 40 years – who saved his life.
Former policemen Peter Gregory, 68, and Tony Foster, 76, from St Helens, Merseyside, worked together in the traffic task force for four decades and stayed friends ever since.
So Peter, a volunteer medic with North West Ambulance Service, was horrified when he received an emergency call and discovered it was from Tony’s home address – where he arrived to find his friend in pain and short of breath, having suffered a major heart attack.
The retired friends exchanged only a few words before Tony fell into full cardiac arrest and Peter swiftly started CPR – launching a portable defibrillator to send a life-saving shock which restarted his best mate’s heart and saved his life.
Hero dad-of-one Peter said: “Initially the only information you get is an address, so you look at it and sometimes you recognise it because it’s your local area.
“When I saw the address this time I knew straight away it was Tony’s house
“Not knowing what the job was quite concerning and then I saw the second call come in while I was en route and it came up with chest pains.
“It hit home that it was something potentially very serious and that time was of the essence.
“When I got there he was sat on the edge of his bed holding his chest, I spoke to him just enough and within 30 seconds he started going into cardiac arrest.
“The timing couldn’t have been any better because your chances of survival in cardiac arrest drop by 10 per cent every minute.
“I’ve been to cardiac arrests before too but never where I have known the person and nothing as serious or dramatic as this.
“Sometimes in this job you can come away and just close the door but when it’s somebody you have known for so long and someone who is a personal friend that adds a completely new dimension to it.
“We are both ex-police so we have seen some horrific things in our careers and so I think at the time you just stick on a brave face and follow the training you have been given.
“It’s only afterwards that you realise what you have been through.
“I’m absolutely delighted that I was able to help him – as you would be for anybody – but there’s a personal issue and to see him back on his feet and healthy is really lovely.”
Serving in Merseyside Police Traffic Force together for 40 years, Tony and Peter have both seen their fair share of fatal incidents.
But the pair admitted Tony’s terrifying ordeal was a special experience which has brought the tight knit pals even closer together.
Former motorway patrol officer, Tony, spent two weeks in hospital recovering and needed a seven hour heart bypass but has since made great progress with the help of his caring wife, Janet, 76.
And he remains forever indebted to his pal – who he usually sees at least once a month – for saving his life and is amazed fate meant he was the first paramedic on the scene.
Tony said: “In the lead up to my heart attack there had been some warning signs like breathlessness but tests had proven inconclusive.
“You don’t expect it, so when it actually comes it is a huge shock – but it was reassuring when I saw another friendly face coming to my aid.
“I was so grateful to see him when he arrived but we didn’t exchange much in the way of conversation because the cardiac arrest happened only minutes later.
“Although we didn’t have much verbal contact the interaction we had that day was incredibly vital and very special.
“The contribution the community first responders make is life-saving.
“If it hadn’t been for Peter’s timely intervention I almost certainly would have died.”
Since the incident the friends have met up with the other paramedics who helped to save his life to exchange thanks and appeal for more members of the community to volunteer with NWAS.
Peter added: “I think it’s vitally important that we get some fresh blood in the community first responders team locally.
“We are in a rural area and getting ambulances to a situation in enough time can be quite challenging, so having these people volunteering locally is crucial.”