Welcome to SWASFT

April 2018

Airline boss meets lifesavers after cadiac arrest

A retired aviation director who had a cardiac arrest at the wheel has been reunited with South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) paramedics and members of the public who saved his life.

Kevin Steele, 66, was driving home through Bournemouth after watching a Premier League football match in November 2017 when his heart suddenly stopped beating.

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Airline boss meets lifesavers

The former airlines chief executive was unconscious and without oxygen for five minutes. He had a very slim chance of survival.

But various passers-by and paramedics treated Kevin at the scene and on the way to hospital – to keep him alive.

During a special event at Bournemouth Ambulance Station on Friday April 20, Kevin thanked the ‘A Team’ of bystanders, SWASFT paramedics and hospital staff.

Kevin said: “Without their skill, hard work and dedication, I would almost certainly not be alive today. To say ‘thank you’ is not nearly enough. They really were an ‘A Team’ of lifesavers, and my family and I will be eternally grateful.”

Dramatic video footage from Kevin’s car dashcam shows the extraordinary episode, which he has no recollection of.

Kevin drove normally through the city streets, before experiencing serious breathing difficulties. His vehicle slowed to a halt on Wellington Road, and remained stationary for several minutes.

A male passer-by eventually spotted the lifeless Kevin and dialled 999. 

Polish trio Izabela & Peter Fiszbach and Greg Erdmann also stopped at the scene.

Izabela said: “We thought something was wrong. I ran over and found Kevin not breathing inside the car. We were desperate to help him.”

SWASFT Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Sigourney Keyte, in the 999 Control Hub provided crucial medical instructions over the phone, including CPR directives, which gave Kevin a fighting chance of survival.

The bystanders pulled Kevin out of his car, and began to do chest compressions before SWASFT crews arrived. The crews moved Kevin into an ambulance where they continued CPR and undertook defibrillation, which got his heart beating again.

Kevin was taken to Royal Bournemouth Hospital Intensive Care Unit, where he was put into a coma and given 24/7 care. He has gone on to make a fantastic recovery.

Kevin said: “It’s been amazing to meet the people who literally saved my life. A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone involved. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to you all.”

Izabela said: “I was so happy to hear Kevin was alive, and it’s been brilliant to meet him. It shows how much difference people can make if they are prepared to help in an emergency. I’d encourage anyone to do CPR.”

Paramedics urge people to step in and act quickly to save lives in an emergency situation.

Martyn Box, the SWASFT Operations Officer who was in charge on the night, said:

“Everything went according to the Chain of Survival for Kevin. He had early access to the emergency response system, early CPR and defibrillation, and paramedics were on the scene quickly. Then he received further treatment in hospital. His survival was a multidisciplinary team effort.

“I am delighted that he has made such a good recovery, and it’s been fantastic to meet him.

“As Kevin’s case shows, the more people equipped with the knowledge and confidence to administer CPR and the more defibrillators there are available, the more people we can save.”

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.

Some 30,000 people are treated for cardiac arrests in the UK every year.

Just 9% survive an out-of-hospital arrest, but their chances increase significantly when CPR is administered early.

If you suspect someone is having a cardiac arrest - dial 999, begin CPR, and use a defibrillator if one is available.

Mum thanks paramedics after emergency baby born

A grateful patient from St Austell has written to the paramedics of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to thank them for helping to safely deliver her baby boy in the back of an emergency ambulance.

Rebecca Welch, 30 and now a proud mum of 4, was so impressed by the crew that she now wants to meet up with them and say thanks in person with her new baby boy, Grayson; “The crew were amazing and treated me with dignity and respect throughout the whole labour. They were very professional, asking me questions and asking my permission throughout.”

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Mum thanks paramedics

Rebecca’s sister helped when she called 999 as the contractions started to come on quickly– little did she know that she would be giving birth in an ambulance less than an hour later. 

Rebecca said: “I was feeling very anxious and scared before the crew arrived. After the crew arrived I felt so relieved, a lot less anxious.”

Paramedic, Lizzie Watts arrived in an ambulance with her emergency care assistant, Darren Williams. Shortly after, paramedic Steve Puckey arrived in a rapid response vehicle.

Rebecca said: “The paramedics came in and introduced themselves, they asked me a few questions then Lizzie passed me the gas and air.”

“Lizzie then helped me to get my trousers on and helped me to walk to the ambulance.”

“I had cannulas put in, my blood pressure went low, and I was asked by the paramedics to lie on my left side.”

“After a few minutes in the ambulance, my waters broke and I gave birth to my son. Lizzie delivered my son whilst talking to me throughout.”

Paramedic, Lizzie Watts said: “We did a few checks and then started our journey to the hospital. About 5 minutes into the journey, the woman’s contractions intensified, I asked my crew mate to stop so I could check how things were progressing, and then realised very quickly we would not be delivering at the hospital.”

“We quickly prepared a delivery pack and then coached Rebecca through 2-3 intense pushes and then her baby boy was delivered.”

“After a quick check and a rub down, baby was handed to mum and we continued on our way to hospital. Great team effort although I think mum did all the work really.”

Rebecca wanted to thank Paramedics Steve and Lizzie for their support throughout the birth of her baby boy.

On Sunday 15th April 2018 at 10:30am, Paramedics Steve Puckey and Lizzie Watts had a reunion at St Austell Ambulance Station with Rebecca and her baby boy.

Heart attack survivor reunited with lifesaving paramedics

A heart attack survivor has been reunited with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) paramedics and a barmaid who saved her life.

Angela Roche, 67, collapsed at the Southbrook Inn in Swindon on 16 March when she was meeting friends for lunch.

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Heart attack survivor Swindon

Her life was in serious danger, and so she needed urgent medical help.

Barmaid Gail Pearce went to Angela’s aid and called 999 – before paramedics carried out vital treatment to keep her alive.

At a special event in Swindon today (Friday 13), Angela thanked the SWASFT crew and pub staff for their quick and effective actions.

Angela said: “It all happened so quickly. But the pub staff and the paramedics were brilliant. Without them I wouldn’t be here.”

The retired town council worker began to feel unwell earlier in the day – but was unaware it was anything serious.

Angela said: “I noticed a pain in my chest. Then I felt dreadfully unwell, but I managed to get to the pub. It’s all a bit of a blur after that.”

Lauren Hawkins, an Emergency Medical Dispatcher in the 999 Control Hub, instructed pub staff to stay with Angela until paramedics arrived.

Gail said: “I don’t do anything extraordinary. I just tried to keep her awake. I did what I thought was best, and what the 999 call handler told me to do. I’m pleased I was able to help Angela.”

SWASFT Specialist Paramedic Nigel Philipson arrived at the pub within 12 minutes of the call. He was followed in an ambulance by SWASFT Paramedic Kevin McClean and Emergency Care Assistant Angela Heal.

Kevin said: “We see a lot of patients with chest pains, but not many collapsed on the floor like Angela. She was very poorly. It was clear to us that she was having a heart attack. And I was concerned that she would stop breathing, and have a cardiac arrest. 

“We needed to act quickly – because the more time that passed, the less chance she had of survival.

Angela was taken by ambulance to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon for further treatment. She had a stent inserted to open up a blocked artery, reducing the likelihood of her having another heart attack.

Angela remained in hospital for three days where she was visited by Kevin. She has since made a fantastic recovery.

She added: “It was a bit of a shock. I never thought it would happen to me. I’m so grateful to still be alive.”

Kevin added: “The outcome could have been different. But thankfully we managed to save Angela’s life.”

A heart attack happens when one of the coronary arteries suddenly becomes blocked.

A lack of blood to the heart can seriously damage the heart muscle and can be life-threatening.

Paramedics urge people to step in and act quickly to save lives in an emergency situation.

If you suspect someone is having a heart attack, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Thorncombe First Responders celebrate 20 years

A landmark group of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteers are celebrating 20 years of saving lives and helping people.

Thorncombe First Responders became the first rural Community First Responder (CFR) group in the country when they launched in April 1998.

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Over the past two decades the group have provided round-the-clock emergency care for those in need. They have attended thousands of incidents, saving many lives.

Around 100 people, including SWASFT volunteers and staff, attended a celebration in the village on Saturday (7 April). Sir Oliver Letwin, MP for West Dorset went to congratulate the group. The volunteers were presented with a shield in recognition of the achievement.

David Toman, SWASFT Community Responder Officer Paramedic for Dorset, said: “The team bring a huge benefit to their local community. They have been instrumental in saving lives and helping to promote the recovery of those who were injured or ill over the past 20 years. I am very proud to manage them and help to support them in their role. Special thanks to Melanie Pierce-Butler, the team leader.”

CFRs are vital volunteers who are trained by SWASFT to attend certain types of emergency calls within the area they live – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In 2003 the Thorncombe group was given a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for voluntary services to the community. Former village postmistress Rosemary Walley, who set-up the group, was awarded an MBE. In 2016 they won the SWASFT CFR Dorset Group Award for showing outstanding commitment to their community.

Thorncombe 2

Last year the team received additional training to enable them to provide an enhanced response when people have falls. Utilising the expertise of clinicians in the 999 control hub, the team are able to safely mobilise a patient and allow them to remain at home. That helps to reduce the pressure on both SWASFT and the NHS as a whole. 

Richard Buckley, SWASFT Acting Responder Manager, said: “We are extremely grateful to this amazing group of people who give their time freely to support the care that we can offer our patients. Sometimes this can be by performing lifesaving skills and defibrillation and other times simply their reassurance and time.

“I am proud to work with and help to support this incredible group of people, each day I am reminded of just how special they are.”

CFRs respond to particular types of medical emergencies where it is essential for the patient to receive immediate lifesaving care. These include conditions such as cardiac arrest, chest pain, breathing difficulties, unconscious patients, fitting and stroke.

There are almost 1,000 CFRs who volunteer for SWASFT, covering hundreds of locations across the South West.

Grandfather reunited with lifesavers

A grandfather has been reunited with a teaching assistant who saved his life – because of a last-minute supermarket trip to buy cake.

Martin Hyde, 71 from Trowbridge, had a cardiac arrest in the street when he was out with his wife in November 2017.

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His heart had stopped beating, and his chance of survival was slim.

But teaching assistant, Michael Hunt, stepped-in and performed CPR to keep Martin alive.

During a special event on Thursday 29 March, Martin expressed his gratitude to Michael and the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) crew who saved his life.

Martin said: “It’s amazing that I’m here today. It feels like I was gone, and then came back. The right people showed up to keep me alive, including strangers in the street. I’ll be eternally grateful to everyone. I’m a lucky boy.

“I’d encourage anyone to act as quickly as possible in a cardiac arrest situation, and do chest compressions. Don’t be afraid to step in, and pump fast and hard to be beat of Stayin’ Alive. CPR kept me alive.”

Martin had just been discharged from hospital after undergoing heart surgery. It was the first time he had been out since returning home.

Michael had recently completed a First Aid course, during which he learned how to do CPR. He was going to visit his mum.

Michael said: “I decided to go to the supermarket to buy marzipan stollen, because it’s a family favourite. That’s when I saw Martin lying on the ground.”

“Martin looked in a very bad state. He wasn’t breathing, and his face was purple. I knew that I couldn’t really make things any worse. So I rolled him onto his back and started CPR. He made a gargling sound, but I carried on doing chest compressions until the first paramedic arrived."

Richard Tilsley, a SWASFT Operations Officer, treated Martin with the assistance of Paramedic Simon Cocks. Between them, they managed to get his heart beating again.

Paramedic duo, Danielle Askey and Wilf Griffin, then used a stretcher to move Martin from the pavement into a helicopter.

Martin was airlifted to Bristol Royal Infirmary where he remained in intensive care for several days. Martin has gone on to make a fantastic recovery.

Meanwhile, Michael eventually got to the supermarket to buy his snack, and then travelled to see his mother.

Michael said: “I did what I could for Martin, but I didn’t think it was too promising. So I was over the moon when I heard he was alive and home for Christmas. It’s remarkable.

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.

Some 30,000 people are treated for cardiac arrests in the UK every year. Only around 1 in 10 patients return home alive, but the chances of survival increase significantly when CPR is administered early.

Richard said: “As Mr Hyde’s case demonstrates, the sooner that basic life support and a defibrillator can be provided to someone in cardiac arrest the better their chance of survival.

“I am delighted that he has made such a good recovery and would like to thank him for formally acknowledging the work of everyone involved.

“The more people equipped with the knowledge and confidence to administer CPR and the more defibrillators there are available, the more people we can save.”

South Western Ambulance Charity logo

South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/SWASC.