Grantham teenagers’ bond is ‘stronger than ever’ following life and death ordeal

Zach Selby and his girlfriend Chloe Tones, who performed CPR to keep him alive when he stopped breathing.
Zach Selby and his girlfriend Chloe Tones, who performed CPR to keep him alive when he stopped breathing.
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Teenagers in love had a dramatic start to their relationship when one ended up giving CPR to save the life of the other.

The night Zach Selby, 19, and Chloe Tones, 16, were camping with friends in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth is one neither of them will ever forget.

They were sitting in a tent having a few drinks, just hours after they began their relationship, when Zach went for a wander alone to sit on a nearby bench. Standing a few minutes later, he suffered a “horrific” pain in his chest and fell to the floor.

Zach, who lives on the outskirts of Grantham, said: “That’s all I can remember. If it wasn’t for my girlfriend Chloe, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

Realising Zach had been gone a while, Chloe and their friends went in search of him. Luckily for Zach, she spotted the light on his mobile phone, and found him lying on the floor.

Chloe, of Dysart Road, Grantham, said: “He was floppy. I tried to get him up and shook him but there was nothing.

“Then he was holding his chest and screaming in pain.”

It was just before 3.15am on Sunday and there was no-one around to help the teenagers. They dialled 999 and spoke to an operator in the ambulance control room.

Chloe said: “I told him he’d stopped breathing and I had to check his pulse, and it was really fast.

“He got me to do CPR and this was for 40 minutes until the ambulance got there. He kept waking up and going again.

“When I was giving him mouth-to-mouth his eyes were wide open but he wasn’t there.

“I just thought to myself, if I stop he’s not going to be able to live.

I had to keep going. It was awful.”

With the ambulance nowhere close by, the control room operator told Chloe to send a friend to a nearby public access defibrillator, giving out a code to open up the casing. This code will forever be etched on Chloe’s mind, she later joked.

Following the instructions given by the machine, she placed the pads on Zach’s chest, continuing CPR when instructed.

The 40-minute ordeal felt like a lifetime to the teens, who were overcome with relief when paramedics finally arrived. They took over and took Zach to Grantham Hospital.

Zach’s brother and sister, who both work at the hospital, were soon by his side once his sister, a nurse, saw his name in a record book.

Chloe stayed at Zach’s side by his hospital bed, keeping it together until the second her mum came rushing through the door.

Mer mum, Claire Tones, 38, said: “She just lost it then! She was in tears.

“She’s amazing, I’m the proudest mum on the planet. I’m very, very pleased that it didn’t come to the worst and Zach is still here.”

Doctors are stumped as to what caused Zach’s collapse. And because he was adopted aged three and knows nothing about his biological parents there is no way of knowing if a hereditary condition is responsible. To monitor his condition, Zach will shortly have a disc attached to his heart, which will collect data over two years and help doctors figure out what’s wrong.

Going through such a terrifying ordeal has sealed their love, say Zach and Chloe.

Chloe, who will be studying beauty at Grantham College from September, said: “It’s had a big impact on us, we’ve got a really strong bond now because I’ve saved his life.”

Zach, an apprentice hairdresser at Baileys in Grantham, added: “I will never forget it. If it wasn’t for Chloe I wouldn’t be here and would never have seen my family again. It really makes you appreciate things, especially us.”

Teaching first aid and CPR in schools is something Zach said he would like to see happen, as well as more villagers installing public access defibrillators. He said: “The same thing could happen to anyone unexpectedly, at any time.”

A spokesperson for the East Midlands Ambulance Service echoed Zach’s words, saying: “This is a great example of how members of the public can help save a life by learning first aid skills and we’re pleased we were able to play a key role in giving him the best possible chance of surviving his heart attack.”