Tim’s first aid story: “I recognised the signs that I was having a heart attack”


A few days into the first national lockdown of 2020, Tim was visiting a local farm shop, when he returned to his car and began to feel unwell.

Tim said, “I noticed that I had a dull ache in my left shoulder muscle. I assumed that I had just slept awkwardly on it and so I tried massaging my shoulder.”

When Tim arrived home, he continued to feel unwell.

“I had a tingling sensation in my jaw which was like anaesthetic wearing off. I began to suspect that I may be having a heart attack. As my wife was working from home, I called her into the kitchen and asked her to fetch some aspirin and call the emergency services.”

If you think someone may be having a heart attack, you can offer the person an aspirin tablet (if available in your workplace) to chew slowly, as this will help thin their blood. They should not take more than 300mg in one dose.

Shortly after, the emergency services arrived, and Tim was taken to hospital where he had heart surgery and he later made a full recovery at home.

Tim added, “I had renewed my first aid training certificate a few months prior to the incident, so I remained calm as I knew the steps to take in the situation. If I had not attended a first aid training course, I wouldn’t have realised that I was having a heart attack as I wouldn’t have been able to recognise the symptoms in myself.”

A person who is having a heart attack may have dull, heavy, central chest pain that may spread to the jaw and down one or both arms.

Tim's story is a reminder of the importance of learning first aid. At the British Red Cross, we offer a wide range of first aid and health and safety courses to help you to have the skills and confidence to act in a first aid emergency.