Dad-of-three saved by hero wife after collapsing on school run

A dad-of-three survived a cardiac arrest thanks to the actions of his quick-thinking wife and a passer-by.

Rebecca Gleeson came to the rescue of her husband Roy – an otherwise fit and healthy 40-year-old – when he collapsed whilst taking his children to school, according to Teesside Live.

The couple, from Redcar, were jogging with their three kids, 10-year-old Evan, seven-year-old Kian, and Rose, five, as they dropped them off at Coatham CE Primary School on Tuesday, October 12 around 8.30am.

However, their morning school run turned into a nightmare ordeal when Roy suddenly staggered and fell to the ground.

“We’d got just over halfway to the school when Roy just collapsed,” said Rebecca.

“He actually landed on our middle child, who broke the fall a little bit.

“I put him into the recovery position but then I was just panicking, I couldn’t find a pulse.”

Rebecca remembered first aid training she learnt whilst working in a pub aged 19, and quickly started chest compressions.

Roy then gasped and spluttered as though he was choking, which the doctors later confirmed was a seizure, before he completely stopped breathing again.

Roy and Rebecca Gleeson, with their three children (L-R) Rose, Kian, and Evan.

One of the school dads, Kyle, stopped to help and he and Rebecca alternated CPR.

“I don’t know how long it had been, but it felt like forever,” Rebecca said.

“It was awful.”

When Roy collapsed there weren’t many people around, so Rebecca sent their eldest, Evan to get help.

“I knew I could trust him to cross roads,” Rebecca said.

“He ran to our friend, their childminder, to get help.”

Roy Gleeson coming home from hospital.
Roy Gleeson coming home from hospital.

Evan ran to local childminder, Busy Bees, and a woman walking past, Joanie, rang the ambulance and kept the youngest two children distracted.

Workmen also stopped to help, and moved Roy away from the road because his arm kept falling into the road where traffic was passing.

As other parents arrived doing the school run, they took the children so they were safe and didn’t have to watch.

The school’s attendance officer had driven past and returned with the defibrillator that belonged to the school.

“Kyle took control with the defib because he’d had training on it,” Rebecca said.

“It talks to you, I didn’t take in anything that was said to me, I just remember hearing a robot talking.”

Shortly afterwards, the ambulance arrived and the paramedics worked to stabilise Roy with breathing tubes and adrenaline before he could travel.

Rebecca saved Roy after remembering first aid training she learnt whilst working in a pub aged 19.
Rebecca saved Roy after remembering first aid training she learnt whilst working in a pub aged 19.

The ambulance rushed him to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, arriving at roughly 9:30am.

As soon as they arrived at the hospital, Roy was rushed away for treatment while Rebecca was put in the family room to anxiously await the news.

When the nurse returned, she explained Roy had been completely sedated to prevent damage to his brain due to lack of oxygen, and he remained in a coma for over a day.

In an angiogram on Tuesday, October 19, they found he had a blocked artery.

“It was just out of nowhere, it was cardiac arrest,” Rebecca said.

“They said it had a crimp in it, like when you shut a hosepipe off.

“The blockage had stopped the blood flow.”

Roy collapsing came as a complete shock to the family, as he is a regular jogger, with a good diet, who has only just turned 40.

He had a stent fitted on Wednesday morning, and was released in the evening, much to his family’s delight.

“He’s on full rest at the minute, so he’s not even allowed to hoover or do anything,” Rebecca said.

Siblings (L-R) Evan, Kian, and Rose.
Siblings (L-R) Evan, Kian, and Rose.

“But it’s so good to have him home, the kids are happy.”

A week on, with Roy recovering by the day, Rebecca said the whole experience felt “surreal”.

And Roy doesn’t remember a thing from that morning.

As far as he is aware, he went to sleep on the Monday night and woke up in hospital a few days later.

Before his cardiac arrest, Roy was working as a rope access technician and rigger offshore, with Rebecca working in admin for a private building control company.

The whole family are glad to have Roy home and are trying to put the shock behind them.

“The school has been amazing, it was their defib we used,” Rebecca said.

“I don’t remember, but apparently we fundraised for the defib a few years ago,”

The school is also sorting some counselling sessions for the kids, and even sent Rebecca flowers.

She would like to thank everyone for their help in that scary moment, and the support she has received afterwards.

“There were others who stopped to help and brought me things to hospital,” Rebecca said.

“Everyone was and still has been amazing.

“We’ve had loads of care packages dropped off and offers of help with everything from shopping, meals, and childcare or playdates.

“It’s been really overwhelming how kind everyone has been.”

Rebecca and friends are now determined to provide more defibrillators and to support first aid training.

They are in the process of arranging a charity night, hopefully on February 19, to raise money for the life-saving equipment.

“We want to push for primary school kids to do more,” Rebecca said.

“My two youngest, watching me do CPR was a bit mental for them.

“So I’d like to push for the schools to do more training with the kids.”

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