Sam and her family with the NEAS team

Mother of two saved due to life-saving phone call to North East Ambulance Service

A 37 year old woman from South Shields is lucky to be alive after quick-thinking action by her partner.

Clear life-saving instructions from North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) health advisor Christopher Bradley, supported Steven to perform CPR on his partner Sam, before the ambulance crew arrived.

Paramedic Martin Rowntree and student paramedic Christopher Howell were soon on scene to give Sam life-saving emergency treatment and transport her to hospital.

Steven explains, “I followed Sam into the living room to eat our lunch when I noticed she didn’t look well. Her eyes weren’t right and she was gasping for breath when suddenly, she became unresponsive and started being sick everywhere.

“I immediately rang 999 for an ambulance. This all happened in seconds but it felt like it was going on for ages. The call handler was really good and gave me clear instructions on what to do next. I couldn’t find a pulse and so the call handler told me to get Sam on the floor and start CPR.

“By this point, Sam was stone cold and extremely grey in colour. I was screaming for her to come back to me. I really thought I lost her. But, she is here today, alive and well and I could not have given her CPR without the brilliant help of the call handler.”

NEAS health advisor Christopher Bradley, gave critical CPR instructions to Steven at the other end of the phone, which gave Sam the best chance of survival.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) gives patients the best chance of survival before a defibrillator can be accessed but without the defibrillator, a patient’s chances of survival falls by 7 to 10 percent.

Christopher said, “I realised how life threatening Sam’s condition was early into the 999 call. Steven needed to give Sam CPR and so I talked him through the rhythm of the chest compressions whilst the ambulance was on its way. 

“Luckily Steven already had basic first aid training in CPR, which was crucial in him helping Sam because when I was talking him through the chest compressions, he remembered the skills he had learned.

“I also volunteer as a community first responder and I would urge anyone to take part in CPR training. Like Steven, you never know when you might need to use the skills and the most important thing is that you can save a life.”

The cardiac arrest that Sam suffered was caused by a medical condition called Cardiomyopathy. Her condition meant that Sam was at a higher risk of a cardiac arrest and wants other people to be aware of the illness. 

Asda admin manager Sam said, “I think everyone should be educated in delivering CPR as this is it can be the difference between life and death. Steven has received basic CPR training through his work and ultimately, this gave him the skills and confidence he needed to help save my life.

“I think at least one person in the family should know about CPR and how to perform it. This way family members can inform each other and also tell their friends. A big thing for me is educating children in what to do in an emergency situation and when and how to call 999. My kids now know that when I am poorly and don’t answer when they try and wake me up, that they need to call 999, Steven or a close by relative. We have the numbers written down on paper in a safe place so that they can access it easily and remember where it is.

“If you have cardiomyopathy, like me, you could be at a higher risk of having a cardiac arrest due to having heart failure. I had regular check-ups and appointments as well as medication to manage the condition but a cardiac arrest can happen suddenly, at any time.”

Sam now has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) fitted into her collar bone to regulate her heart rhythm. 

Sam continued, “I have good and bad days but I feel lucky to be alive and I’m overwhelmed and thankful that they all saved my life.”

Paramedic Martin Rowntree, who has been with NEAS for 15 years, said, “Sam was in arrest when we arrived at the house and had a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). We shocked Sam four times before we got a rhythm back, cleared her airway and then got her safely on the ambulance to hospital.

“I was very mindful that Steven and his son were in the room at the time and calmly asked them if they were ok and to go in the other room whilst we treated Sam. Frontline staff are always mindful about their surroundings.

“I would encourage members of the public to go on courses to build your confidence, skills and knowledge of CPR. Don’t be scared, remember you can save someone’s life. “

Student paramedic Christopher Howell, who is due to graduate this year, said, “It’s great to see that Sam survived her cardiac arrest and that her recovery is going well. We really appreciate being thanked but we never expect one.”

More information about cardiomyopathy can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cardiomyopathy/

NEAS launched a campaign earlier this year to 60 target areas throughout the region that needed a publically accessible defibrillator, so that anyone in the community could access it to restart someone’s heart in cardiac arrest.  Check to see if your community has a public defibrillator: http://bit.ly/2T79gXG

Find out more about applying for a publicly accessibly defibrillator, you could also receive some part funding from NEAS Charitable Fund: http://bit.ly/2T79gXG

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