On 23rd August 2017 Charlotte’s life was turned upside down when she suffered a cardiac arrest.
It was a normal weekday and she had enjoyed the day having her hair done, her two young children were asleep in bed and she was set to enjoy a quiet evening with her husband James. Charlotte was ordering birthday presents for her daughter online when she said she felt faint. In an instant she was unresponsive having suffered a cardiac arrest.
James instantly reacted to help his wife, calling 999 at 22:27, and having previously learnt first aid he began immediate CPR. First responders quickly arrived on scene and Charlotte received two shocks from a defibrillator to get her heart back into a rhythm. The EEAST team then arrived and continued her care, followed by the EAAA crew of Doctor Laszlo Hetzman and Critical Care Paramedic Jemma Varela, who arrived by helicopter at 22:51. The EAAA team assessed & monitored Charlotte’s heart via ECG (electrocardiogram) and cardiac ultrasound, gained IV (intravenous) access to administer medication and intubated her to take control of her breathing.
Charlotte was then taken by road ambulance to Addenbrooke’s Hospital with the EAAA crew by her side, constantly monitoring and assessing her condition. She remained in hospital for two weeks after the arrest and said she could not remember anything from the week leading up to that day – her last memory was seeing Olly Murs perform at Newmarket racecourse. Memory loss is quite common for many of our patients, which is why the aftercare process is so important as it means patients can begin to piece together what happened to them.
Charlotte has since been diagnosed with an arrhythmia and fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) which sends electrical pulses to regulate the heart rhythm should it need to. Unfortunately this device has since had to go off recently for Charlotte, but it did the job it is there to do, and her condition continues to be monitored.
Despite suffering an arrest at such a young age Charlotte quickly bounced back to normality and was soon picking up life as a busy mum once again. She came into the Cambridge base to meet Dr Laszlo Hetzman who helped save her life. Her husband James said about Laszlo, “I’ve never seen someone throw a chair across a room so quickly to make space to help.”
Charlotte says that James saved her life by knowing to start CPR immediately, and since her arrest she has become an ambassador for the EAAA First Aid Training programme, officially launching it with the BBC. In his interview James said, “When you get married you say until death do us part – and I was not ready for that to happen”. Not only a lovely thing to say but the perfect reason to know how to put CPR into practice.
EAAA First Aid Trainer and Critical Care Paramedic, Mark Milsom, said; “I was fortunate enough to be on the base when Charlotte came for her visit and knowing the details of what had happened I was delighted to see the incredible recovery she had made. People often associate cardiac arrest with older people, but that is not the case, and Charlotte as a young woman with two young children is proof of that. However Charlotte’s story is also the ultimate reminder of the importance of knowing how to perform good CPR and we are so pleased she has become such an ambassador for it.”
The chain of survival was in the perfect order to save Charlotte’s life that night but her courage and determination are what have seen her on her road to recovery.