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Life-saving showroom staff celebrated at Burrows and Baylis car dealerships

Life-saving car dealership staff from Burrows Motor Group and Baylis have come face-to-face with customers they helped revive after suffering cardiac arrests in their showrooms.

Lindsey Clarke, a senior service advisor at Burrows Toyota Rotherham, was told she had “worked miracles” after being reunited with 69-year-old cardiac arrest victim Dave Smelt while the swift action of Baylis MG Gloucester inspired Robert Chamberlayne to highlight the importance of defibrillators.

Clarke, a senior service advisor at Burrows Toyota, put her first aid knowledge into action for the first time three years after taking a training course to prepare her for an emergency.

Dealership drama

“I’d been in the workshop and came back to my desk and saw a pair of legs on the showroom floor”, she recalled of the morning of the incident back in September in conversation with Toyota GB’s dealer magazine.

“I rushed out and put him onto his back – he wasn’t breathing so I started compressions.

“He started breathing briefly but his pulse stopped so I started compressions again.

“By this time a colleague had the ambulance on the phone on loud-speaker – they helped me with the counting. It seemed like forever before I felt a slight pulse again.

“Another member of the team went to get a defibrillator from a local school but the ambulance arrived before he got back. I carried on with compressions while the paramedics got ready.”

Clarke added: “It’s the first time, and hopefully the last, I’ve had to do anything like this. I was okay until he was stabilized, then I was tearful and got the shakes – I wanted to know I hadn’t made things worse. The paramedics gave me a cuddle and said ‘well done’.

“We’re now in the process of getting defibrillators installed at all of our dealerships.”

Clarke, who has worked at the Burrows Toyota centre for 14 years added, was recently reunited with the retired EDF technician, from Gainsborough, whose life she saved that day.

Smelt recalled little of the incident but had four stents fitted in surgery after the drama and brought her a gift of flowers, Prosecco and a card as he showed his gratitude.

“She worked miracles – without her I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

‘Fundamental first aid kit’

Staff at Baylis were left in no doubt of the value of their employers’ £13,000 investment in defibrillators for each of its dealerships following a near-tragic incident at its MG showroom in Gloucester.

Robert Chamberlayne from Quedgeley, Gloucester, was chatting with sales consultant Jack Williams at the Cole Avenue showroom when he suddenly collapsed.

Recognising the signs of a cardiac arrest, Robert’s wife, a qualified nurse, asked the staff to help her husband on to the floor, and asked if there was a defibrillator available.

Fellow staff member Donna Williams headed for the on-site Automated External Defibrillator and put it into action without delay.

It was the first time that an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), which provides an automated voice giving clear instruction on its safe use, had been used at Baylis.

The AED’s availability helped to ensure that Chamberlayne made a full recovery, and he recently visited the dealership to thank staff for their response to a life-threatening situation, revealing that it had motivated him to speak to other companies in the area to emphasise the importance of defibrillators.

In 2022 TrustFord, Hendy Group and Vertu Motors were among the AM100 car retail groups to install defibrillators in their dealerships as a matter of policy.

Pendragon made the move four years earlier in anticipation of electric vehicle (EV) related incidents.

Baylis director Dave Jones said: “We wanted to make sure that, should the worst happen to an employee or a member of the public, we have the relevant equipment on hand that may save their life.

“At Baylis we are always looking to improve health and safety and feel that nowadays a defibrillator is as fundamental as a first aid kit. If the technology is there to help to save a life, it has to be worth every penny invested.

“Following our recent experience, I would encourage all businesses to install defibrillators on their premises, and also to share with their neighbours that they are available for all to use.”

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