Nick and Tom Leeming are pictured with, left to right, Jade Worthy, Michael Rhodes, Tom Leeming, Nick Leeming, John Stephenson, Paul Dawson, Chris Honour and Philip Miller

Darlington man’s life saved in fire and ambulance link up

Bravery certificate awarded to son who helped administer CPR

A Darlington man has been reunited with crews from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) and North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) who helped save his life thanks to an emergency medical response (EMR) scheme.

Landscape architect Nick Leeming, aged 51, from Darlington is the latest person who owes his life to the scheme.

The EMR pilot scheme sees fire services across the region joining forces with NEAS to respond to medical emergencies where they can be at the scene before an ambulance arrivesin a bid to save more lives.

Father of two, Nick was out jogging when he suffered a cardiac arrest just 20 metres from home. Luckily for Nick another jogger saw him collapse and immediately raised the alarm. Nick’s wife Jenny and 16-year-old son Tom were fast on the scene after being alerted by neighbours. Tom was trained in life-saving CPR skills at Barnard Castle School and helped the female jogger to administer CPR.

Within just four minutes County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service arrived and was able to take control and providethose vital first responder life-saving skills. They used a defibrillator to shock Nick’s heart and get it started again.The ambulance crew arrived shortly afterwards to care for and transport Nick to St James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Nick was put into an induced coma and operated on the following day to insert a stent into its heart. When he awoke he learnt the full extent of what happened.

Nick said: “I feel extremely lucky to be alive. I can’t remember anything but the fast-acting response of everyone – from the fellow-joggerto Tom and then the fire and ambulance crews - undoubtedlysaved my life. I’m now back at work and making a full recovery. Obviously I’m immensely proud of my son Tom and I’m very grateful to both the fire service and the ambulance service for their fast and professional actions. It’s lovely to be able to finally meet the people involved in helping me and thank them in person.”

Paramedic Michael Rhodes has been with North East Ambulance Service for over seven years, based at Barnard Castle station.  He attended the scene first and was followed to the scene of the incident by a second crew, which included Jade Worthy, who was working as an Emergency Care Assistant at the time and is now studying to be a paramedic.

Michael explained: “Meeting Nick and seeing him look so well is extremely gratifying and what makes our job so worthwhile. His story demonstrates the success of our EMR trial and how it can help our patients. In an emergency situation every second counts and even a couple of minutes can make all the difference between life and death. By ensuring critical patients get the fastest response possible we can give them the best possible chance of survival.  Both Nick’s son Tom and the passer –by were extremely courageous for initiating life-saving support.”

Nick is now taking part in a cardiac rehabilitation programme at his local hospital twice a week and his son has been awarded a bravery certificate by North East Ambulance Service.

In the first six months of the EMR trial fire crews across the region attended a total of 2,904 patients as a result of 999 calls:  1,811 in Durham and Darlington, 136 in Northumberland, 395 in Tyne and Wear and 562 in Cleveland.

The EMR trial was originally set to run for six months, until 30 June 2016. It has since been extended to a full year and is now scheduled to end in February 2017.

Attending the scene for the fire service were Jono Holmes, Paul Dawson, Chris Honour and Philip Miller.  Their watch manager, John Stephenson, from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, added: “It’s been a pleasure to meet Nick and his family again in better circumstances and see him looking so well.  The EMR trial is a fantastic example of emergency services working well together. Firefighters are used to providing life-saving first aid at incidents and this trial ensures these skills are used as effectively as possible to save lives.”

The Fire and Rescue Service is not funded to provide response to medical emergencies, however it is keen to work more collaboratively with the ambulance service. The trial is part of a review of the terms and conditions of firefighters by the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services, looking at the current and future demands on the service and profession.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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