Saved by burning flip flops: Heart attack victim on Cornwall beach

Sinead Moore
Pair of blue flip flops on sand beach
Pair of blue flip flops on sand beach

A heart attack victim was saved by his fast-thinking friend who set fire to his flip flops to signal an air ambulance.

John Peplow, 51, was on a camping trip with 45-year-old Rich Jago on a deserted beach in Cornwall when he collapsed on the sand.

Rich called 999 asking for a rescue helicopter but the aircraft flew overhead the pair twice without noticing them. Rich pumped John's chest to keep him alive.

Desperate to get their attention, Rich threw his flip flops in to a camp fire. The air ambulance crew then spotted the thick smoke but unfortunatley could not land near enough.

Luckily, a Sea King helicopter arrived and airlifted John to hospital, reports the Mirror.

The pair - who have been friends for 30 years - had decided to visit Rock, across the River Camel from Padstow in Cornwall, on Friday, August 1, for the weekend, reports the Western Morning News.

John later said: "If it was not for my mate I would be dead. He saved my life.

"We had decided to get out of Brixham for the weekend and went down to Cornwall to chill out. We had put the tents up and had gone down to the beach after 1pm.

"I had started to roll a cigarette, but said to Rich 'can you roll this for me as I can't', and then felt pains in my chest.

"The next thing I know, I have passed out on the floor and am having a heart attack.

"Rich was pumping my heart and kept me awake. Luckily he had his phone with him and managed to get a reception and called the ambulance. I was kind of dead on the beach."

Rich, who works for Brixham Trawler Agents, said he had not done any first aid since he was a child.

He said: "I called for an ambulance but we were three fields over so told them we needed the air ambulance.

"I was waving frantically to them to attract their attention as they flew over twice.

"I threw my flip flops into a fire to create some smoke to attract their attention.

"The air ambulance was unable to land though so they had to call for the Sea King helicopter to come.

"It landed and them stabilised John. They appeared to give him an aspirin and that seemed to bring him around."

John was kept at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro until Wednesday and is now recovering at home in Brixham, Devon, following the incident.

He said: "I was practically dead. I would like to thank everyone who helped save my life.

"Rich, the Sea King helicopter, the air ambulance, and the staff at Royal Cornwall Hospital, who were brilliant.

"I will be on the tablets for the rest of my life, but I thought I was gone."

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