First person saved as new cardiac trial gets underway

Mother of two saved

The first patient to be saved by a fire and rescue crew, as part of an emergency medical responder pilot with North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), has been reunited with those who came to her aid.

Sixty-eight year old Linda Broxson of Seaham had just been dropped off at Deneside working men’s club for her weekly bingo night by partner John, when she collapsed unconscious and went into cardiac arrest.

Mother of two with a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren, Linda hadn’t felt particularly unwell prior to the incident other than fighting off a cold and flu symptoms in the weeks leading up to the event.

First on scene to help Linda was crew manager Paul Hodgson, firefighter John Hunter and firefighter Steve Bramley from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service just minutes after the 999 call was received by North East Ambulance Service.   

The fire service is one of four regional fire and rescue services now responding to medical emergencies as part of a new six-month trial scheme in the North East to work together to save more lives.

Fire and Rescue Service crew manager, Paul Hodgson, said: “We knew we were responding to an unconscious patient who had suffered a cardiac arrest and wasn’t breathing and were met by a lady on arrival who was surprised to see the fire engine.

"I quickly explained that we were emergency co-responders trained to help and that the ambulance was on its way. This was the first job we attended like this and, as you would expect, it was a bit daunting initially, but once we reached Linda our training kicked in. My crew did an excellent job clearing Linda’s airway, commencing CPR and attaching a defibrillator before the paramedics arrived.

"We are so pleased that Linda is recovering well and it’s been a pleasure to meet her in better circumstances.”

North East Ambulance paramedic Dean Kennedy and emergency care assistant Paul McDonald arrived to the scene just two minutes later to care for and transport Linda to Sunderland Royal Infirmary, where she was taken to resus with a good output and breathing for herself, though she had not regained consciousness.

Based at Pallion station, Paul joined North East Ambulance Service in 2014 from St John’s Ambulance after a career in the Royal Air Force. 

He said: “Getting to a person quickly is essential to give them the best chance possible. The fire crews are a well-trained and professional service and if they are nearer to an incident than we are, those precious minutes can make all the difference.  

"Linda is a great example of how having the right skills at the right time can support the ambulance service give the best service possible to patients.”

Delighted to be reunited with the crews, Linda said: “I don’t remember everything that happened to me but I do know that they saved my life and I’m a very lucky person. I could never pay them back – they are worth their weight in gold!”

North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) covers 3,200 square miles across the North East region. It employs more than 2,500 staff and serves a population of 2.7 million people by handling all NHS 111 and 999 calls for the region, operating patient transport and ambulance response services, delivering training for communities and commercial audiences and providing medical support cover at events.

Keith Wanley, head of operations for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This particular incident occurred on the second day of the sixth month trial and I’m very pleased that our crews were able to help Linda.

"We are pleased with the way the trial is running; there is good communication between our crews and NEAS paramedics and we will be monitoring the trial throughout the coming months.”

Operations manager at NEAS, Gareth Campbell said: “When someone has a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 7–10 per cent – so every second counts.

"We receive a new 999 call every 65 seconds and we do our best to reach people as quickly as we can but when someone nearer can begin basic life support like they have for Linda, the outcomes can be positively life changing for patients and their families.”

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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