The family of an Andover man who suffered a cardiac arrest while out running have paid tribute to the “amazing” people who saved his life.

Stephen Ashmore had been out running alongside Anton Mill Vets on Sunday, January 3, when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Thanks to the quick actions of a couple of members of the public, he was given CPR until an ambulance arrived, and is now stable in hospital.

It was a regular Sunday for Hannah Adel when she got a call from her mum saying that her dad had not returned from his daily 45-minute run.

“My dad’s a very fit and healthy person,” Hannah told the Advertiser. “He went out running and my mum called me in panic after about two hours and said that he hadn’t got home yet.

“I came over to go out looking on the trail and saw there were a lot of people, so I knew something had happened. Then we got the call to say he had a cardiac arrest on the side of the road.”

A cardiac arrest, where the heart stops pumping blood around the body, differs from a heart attack, where blood vessels to the heart become blocked. In Stephen’s case, tests in hospital revealed he had an irregular heartbeat.

“It just stopped,” said Hannah. “People can live with it all of their life and it not be an issue.”

After Stephen collapsed, he was helped by members of the public, who started to perform CPR on him. One of these people was Simon Mussell.

“We were on a dog walk on our normal route,” he said. “We passed our neighbour and had a quick chat. Then the next minute, she was calling us back.”

Simon and his wife Jo ran back to help Stephen, who had only just run past them, and called 999. As an electrical engineer, Simon is trained in CPR, but said that it differs in reality.

“It all came in useful,” he said, “but when you’re doing it on a dummy, it doesn’t matter if you do something wrong, but it’s a different case when you’re faced with a real life situation. I was quite panicky, to be honest.”

Simon was helped by three other members of the public. One of them, Phil Vincent, started CPR first, before giving way to another man to continue them. Simon then took over to give further CPR, while another member of the public monitored Stephen’s pulse throughout.

“He was breathing, but very irregularly,” said Simon. “He didn’t look in a good state at all. We started compressions, and I took over after a couple of minutes. We thought his pulse had started so then we stopped. Then we realised he was going again so we kept going.”

After about six minutes, paramedics arrived at the scene, and the group kept the compressions going until they were ready to use a defibrillator. After two shocks, Stephen came around, and was put into an ambulance.

“The consultant said if he was on his own, he wouldn’t have survived,” said Hannah. “They can’t believe he’s survived this. God only knows what would have happened if there were different circumstances.”

She said it was difficult for her family at the moment, as they are unable to see Stephen due to Covid restrictions in hospital. She said that he is now stable, and that his care from the NHS has been “absolutely outstanding.”

“We feel ever so lucky at the moment,” she said. “It’s brought some comfort to know there are some amazing people around, especially in Covid times when we’re all being told to socially distance. For them to step in is marvellous.”

Many people have since paid tribute to those who helped after the story was shared on Facebook, calling them “legends” and “amazing”.

If you see someone who is suffering from a cardiac arrest, you should immediately call 999. CPR should then follow if the individual is unconscious and not breathing normally, or at all.

Using the heel of your hand, interlocked with the other, chest compressions should be performed at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute until the ambulance arrives, or the individual begins to recover. Rescue breaths usually accompany this, but advice from the British Heart Foundation says that they are not currently advised due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For more information on CPR, please click here.