"Surviving a cardiac arrest"

About: North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust / Emergency ambulance Tameside General Hospital / Accident and emergency Tameside General Hospital / Cardiology

(as the patient),

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. 

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Response from Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for your feedback in relation to your recent experience.

We are delighted that your experience was so positive with everyone whom you came in contact with.

We have shared your comments with our teams.

Response from Deborah Gallagher, Patient Experience Support Officer, Patient Experience, North West Ambulance Service

picture of Deborah Gallagher

Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your experience on Patient Opinion – I read this when it was posted and have since shared it with a number of my colleagues within North West Ambulance Service as I thought it was a very interesting and an amazing situation – thank you for your praise for both the lady who answered your call and for the paramedics who treated you.

Secondly, I am so glad that someone had the confidence to use the defibrillator, I have had training on using one of these myself and cannot emphasise enough how easy they are to use and how they talk the user through every step of the process.

I am not sure if you are aware but North West Ambulance Service is working very hard on placing defibrillators in local communities and we have undertaken a number of campaigns such as visiting the House of Commons to raise awareness of being ‘Cardiac Smart’ and also in October we ran a ‘Shocktober’ campaign - a ‘Find the Defib’ campaign which asked members of the public to share locations of defibrillators so we could build up our knowledge of where the public defibrillators are even more and direct people to them in an emergency situation.


I am aware that Patient Opinion is a website which allows you to post completely anonymously but if you would like to, we would love to hear more about your experience and also share with you some of the work that we are undertaking in this area. We completely understand if you do not wish to make any further contact however if this is something you would be interested in then please do not hesitate to get in touch through Talk.Tous@nwas.nhs.uk.

I would like to finish by offering you my best wishes for the future and thank you once again for sharing your experience.

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