“Stayin’ Alive”

Sharon Thorneywork, who lives in Great Britain, once saved a man’s life while singing the Bee Gees’ song “Stayin’ Alive.” She was on a bus when a man in the seat behind her collapsed onto the floor. She yelled to the bus driver, “Call an ambulance!” The man turned blue — almost purple. She tried to find a pulse, but she could not. Then she asked the other people on the bus, “Does anyone know CPR?” No one came forward, and so she started doing CPR on the man. Ms. Thorneywork remembered, “Although I work at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, it’s not in a medical role and I haven’t had first-aid training. I vaguely recalled a video of Vinnie Jones doing chest compressions to the tune of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ because it has the right tempo for the procedure — 100 beats a minute.” She started doing chest compressions while singing, “You can tell by the way I use my walk / I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk.” Because her mother was a big fan of the Bee Gees, Ms. Thorneywork knew all the words to the song. A rapid-response paramedic showed up and told her to carry on with the chest compressions while he got his kit, including a heart monitor. Ms. Thorneywork said, “The heart monitor showed a flat line, so the paramedic used a defibrillator to try to restart his heart. That was unsuccessful and I carried on pumping [the victim’s chest].” An ambulance arrived, and another paramedic began performing the chest compressions. The paramedics also continued to shock the man’s heart. Ms. Thorneywork was afraid that the man would die, but she received good news: “Two hours later a policeman rang and told me the man was breathing on his own. I was over the moon. I also learned that I had been doing chest compressions for 18 minutes and that my efforts had saved his life — the paramedics only shocked him repeatedly because I had kept the blood circulating. It would have been pointless otherwise.” Two months later, the man whose life she had saved — Terry Holly — contacted her. They met, and he gave her a thank-you gift: an engraved heart. She said, “It was wonderful to see him looking so much better. Although we’d never met before and never will again, I felt a close bond with Terry. He told me that he’d had a pacemaker fitted and we joked about ‘Stayin’ Alive’ being our song — definitely the extended remix version.”

For Further Information: Sharon Thorneywork, “Experience: I saved a man’s life while singing ‘Stayin’ Alive.’” As told to Emily Cunningham. Guardian. 5 July 2013


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