A SOUTHAMPTON man who underwent critical heart surgery has been reunited with the first aid volunteer who saved his life.

Kevin Blann said that if St John Ambulance volunteer Martyn Charity had not made him seek hospital treatment after he starting experiencing chest pains following the Cirencester Off-Road Duathlon, he would have died.

The 49-year-old from Harefield thought he was just suffering from heartburn after competing in the race that involved a 5km run, 20km cycle ride and then another 5km run.

“I really wanted to drive home with my father but Martyn had been called to check me over and plainly wasn’t happy with that,” said Kevin.

“He said I looked really pale and that he wouldn’t be doing his job properly if he didn’t make sure I was checked out.

“An ambulance was called and they took me to hospital. On the way, they did three ECGs on my heart and by the third time, it was lights and sirens all the way to the Bristol Royal Infirmary.”

Kevin, who works for Tesco at its distribution centre in Southampton and has been a keen cyclist since he was a teenager, underwent an emergency operation to put a stent into his heart.

He believes that he owes his life to Martyn and added: “I will be eternally grateful that Martyn made me get medical attention – if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here today.”

Twenty-nine-year-old Martyn, who has been a trained first aider since he joined St John Ambulance at seven years old, said: “I could see Kevin was unwell and potentially suffering a heart attack, so I recommended that he went to hospital but he took a lot of persuading that he needed any treatment.

“I suggested meeting him halfway and getting an ambulance and he agreed.

“The seriousness of the situation soon hit home when the paramedics confirmed he was having a heart attack. I am glad he listened to my advice.”

District manager for St John Ambulance in the south, Dan Bevis, said: “This is a perfect demonstration of why knowing first aid is so important – it can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.”