Most people don’t think they will ever need the services of the air ambulance, I was one of those people, but having now been attended by them several times I can safely say I have needed them – but I certainly hope never to need to use them again.
In October 2013 my heart stopped for the first time, and then it stopped again the following August. Both times the air ambulance attended, and through a very fortunate chain of events I am very happy to be alive to tell the tale.
The first time my heart stopped I was with my next door neighbour Mick in his home – I’d gone round to ask if he would take me to the doctors as I was experiencing chest pains – they quickly worsened and I collapsed. I was in cardiac arrest. Mick was on the 999 call at the time, and he was coached by the call handler to perform CPR on me – something I was fortunate that he had learned in the army some years before. Mick kept my heart beating until the land paramedic arrived when he took over.
I will forever be grateful to Mick, the paramedics, and to EAAA for all they did together to ensure I lived to see another day. Twice.
The East Anglian Air Ambulance were close behind and once they had got my heart beating again on its own, using manual CPR and then an automated external defibrillator, they flew me to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in Anglia One. It took just 20 minutes from taking off in the helicopter from my home in Woodbridge, Suffolk, to arriving at the hospital more than 45 miles away. My heart stopped three times en route to the hospital – and once I arrived they were quick to operate and fit a stent to fix the problem in my heart that was causing it to keep stopping.
The stent hadn’t resolved the problem fully, and the following August I collapsed again, and luckily Mick was on hand again and kept my heart going until the air ambulance crew arrived. It was the same critical-care paramedic who came, Rod Wells, and he recognised us both immediately.
I know how fortunate I am; first of all I was with someone who was confident and competent in CPR when my heart stopped, and then the air ambulance was called for, meaning I got to hospital far quicker than I would have done by road, and I benefitted from the medical expertise a critical-care paramedic and doctor bring. I will forever be grateful to Mick, the paramedics, and to EAAA for all they did together to ensure I lived to see another day. Twice.