CPR Instructor Has Heart Attack in Class, Student Saves Him: 'It Was Quite Severe'

David Knowles knew he didn't have much time before he passed out, or died.

This was not a drill.

David Knowles had just begun a CPR training class in his local church when he suddenly felt quite awful.

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He puddled to the floor, but managed to take his own pulse.

"Are you all right?" a student asked.

“I’m not feeling all right at all,” Knowles, 77, told his pupil. The former nurse was having a heart attack on the first day of his emergency training course.

First, he had to let the class know this was not a demonstration. And before he passed out, or died, he had to tell them how to help.

“The whole group was up on its feet, looking like they weren’t doing very well, either,” Knowles told InsideEdition.com Thursday during a phone interview from his home in Exeter, England.

Karol Chew, a fellow parishioner and also a former nurse, was taking Knowles’ class as a refresher course.

Knowles told Chew to call an ambulance. He said he was about to experience cardiac arrest and might not survive. He asked for his wife, Nova, to be notified, but stressed that she was not to hurry.

“She’d just had her gallbladder out and wasn’t supposed to run,” he said.

He asked Karol to remove his false teeth and put them somewhere safe. “I was beginning to get a bit foggy,” he said.

But he knew he had to try to stay awake. “I couldn’t really get stirred up about it,” he said, because he had to help Karol help him.

From that point on, he doesn’t remember much.

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“I woke up two and half weeks later,” he said. He had been in a medically induced coma because the damage to his heart was serious, he said. “It was quite severe. I was more dead than alive when they got me into hospital.”

That was four months ago, and Knowles says he continues to improve. He exercises and keeps a close eye on himself.

He said Karol performed CPR after he stopped breathing. Without her, he doesn’t know if he’d still be alive.

“It really got bizarre, the whole thing,” Knowles said.

Doctors say he is in good health, and he is helping St. John Ambulance, where he volunteers, celebrate its 140th anniversary.

“I feel a lot better,” he said.

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