Heart attack victim Wally Smith saved on petrol forecourt by off-duty firefighter Phil Harrington
Wally Smith with his wife Annie
A grandfather is to be reunited with a firefighter who saved his life after he suffered a heart attack on a garage forecourt, thanks to the Medway Messenger.
Dad-of-two Phil Harrington, from Rainham, leapt out of his car to rush to the aid of Wally Smith, 63, after he collapsed and ‘died’ at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre service station.
Mr Smith’s wife Annie believes without Mr Harrington’s quick thinking he may not be here today.
After Mr Harrington was nominated for a Pride in Medway award by his proud wife Maria, we have tracked down Wally and now both parties are planning to meet up for the first time since the terrifying ordeal three months ago.
Mrs Smith, 68, said: “Wally died on me when we got to the garage. I thumped him on the back about four times and then Phil just took over. I have been trying to find him and his wife. We can’t thank them enough.”
Phil Harrington with wife Maria
Mr Harrington, 48, was driving towards the centre’s underground car park when he slammed on the brakes and ordered his wife to take over at the wheel. Mrs Harrington, also 48, looked back to see her husband at the petrol station exit pulling somebody out of a car.
Mrs Harrington said: “Phil was doing CPR on this gentleman. His wife and granddaughter were very upset and I managed to get them to sit behind my car.
“The paramedic said that if it wasn’t for his very first response the man would not have had a chance.”
The incident happened on the morning of July 25 as the couple, of Roystons Close, Rainham, were going shopping.
Mrs Harrington has since returned to the garage where staff told her Mr Smith was recovering at home.
She said: “I still wonder in that split second what Phil saw from the corner of his eye that made him jump out of the car and save a man’s life.”
Mr Harrington has been a firefighter at Gatwick Airport for 16 years and is a retained firemen based at Rainham.
His wife, a teaching assistant at Rainham School for Girls, said: “He is and always has been my hero as a husband, father and grandfather and we are so proud of him every day for being a firefighter. He remained so calm in such a terrible situation and took everything in his stride.”
Mr Smith, of Matts Hill Road, Bredhurst, is still unable to work or drive but is making a good recovery.
Wife Annie said: “Wally was certainly not out of the woods after we got to hospital. He was in intensive care for three days and had to have an operation. We feared the worst. But there is no doubt he may not have been with us here today if it had not been for Phil.”
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