"Surviving a cardiac arrest"
About: North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust / Emergency ambulance North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust Emergency ambulance Bolton BL1 5DD Tameside General Hospital / Accident and emergency Tameside General Hospital Accident and emergency Ashton Under Lyne OL6 9RW Tameside General Hospital / Cardiology Tameside General Hospital Cardiology OL6 9RW
Posted by Retired teacher (as ),
I was in my mid sixties when it happened (last year). I was absolutely fine up until then. I was leading a normal life. I wasn’t ill, I hadn’t been ill, I was fit and healthy. My wife and I were super fit. So in that sense, the last thing I expected was anything like this.
I just so happened to be in a meeting in which we were to discuss: “emergency medical plan and training for use of defibrillator”. Three weeks beforehand we’d taken the delivery of the defibrillator. It was sitting in its box in that room. I’d been asked to mention it in our agenda to sort out being able to use it.
I don’t remember any of what I’m telling you now, but I suddenly slipped sideways. . I’d had a cardiac arrest.
One person did CPR, another gave me the kiss of life, and another went to get the box with the defibrillator, took it out and switched it on. None had ever used one before. The board members had the presence of mind that I would benefit from having it used, and they prepared to have a go. The defibrillator told them what to – the first thing was “don’t panic”. Somebody else rang for an ambulance which took 11 minutes to get to me. They kept me alive until the ambulance arrived. The emergency services were excellent.
The ambulance took me to Tameside Hospital where I was put into an induced coma because it was unclear to them exactly what had happened and what aid had been given to me. All they really knew was that there had been 11 minutes between me falling over and the ambulance arriving. I was in a bad way; I was in a coma for three days.
When I woke the term the doctors used was “idiopathic”, which means no known cause. The doctors told me with sudden cardiac arrest they often don’t know what’s caused it. But they did find, after doing an MRI scan, that my heart had some pumping function impairment.
I was in hospital for a month, the main reason for that was they didn’t want to let me out until I had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted.
My chances of survival out of hospital, without a defibrillator, were just 7 per cent. I’m firm in my head about two major issues: one, we have an inadequate network of defibrillators in this country and two, we need campaigns on CPR and defibrillators to make people aware of what they are and how to use them.
In a way, I regard my survival as a fluke. Survival should be more than a fluke.
The lady who answered the emergency call was superb - telling the people around me what to do. The paramedics were also first class.