A FIRST aider who performed CPR for the first time in 35 years says the skill should be compulsory in schools.

Mark Pilgrim, 53, spent about 15 minutes giving CPR to a pensioner who is believed to have suffered a cardiac arrest at the wheel of his car.

The man, thought to be in his 70s, lost control of the vehicle along Colchester Main Road, in Alresford, last Thursday.

Paramedics told Mr Pilgrim had he not acted fast, the man may not have survived.

He was taken to Colchester General Hospital for further care.

Mr Pilgrim, who coaches the Elmden Rovers FC youth team, learnt first aid as an Army Cadet in his early teens.

He said: “It should be compulsory throughout the country.

“People are frightened of doing it because they don’t know how but I’m sure organisations like St John’s Ambulance would do it for free.

“My 14-year-old son was in the back of the car at the time, he thought me doing CPR was cool and wanted to tell all his friends but I just clicked into autopilot and did what I was trained to do.”

Two cars were in the road when Mr Pilgrim, of Thorrington, arrived. He thought there was an altercation and was ready to drive on.

It was only when he began to overtake, he realised there was a casualty and made a split second decision to stop.

At the time Academy Windows’ employees Dan Robinson, 39, and Ryan Tingey, 22, were lifting the man out of his car to safety.

Mr Robinson was about to start chest compressions when Mr Pilgrim offered to take over.

He said: “It seemed like a lifetime but it was about 15 minutes.

"When the ambulance arrived they wanted me to carry on so I did. When the medics finally told me the man was breathing, it didn’t sink in for a moment.

“I just did my absolute best. Once I got home and told my wife, that’s when I thought blimey.”