Hip hip hooray! Patient thanks crew for the gift of life on his birthday

It was Bobby Finkel’s 73rd birthday when he had a cardiac arrest while out for his morning walk.

Bobby and his family have now been able to thank some of the people who treated him that day, including North East Ambulance Service specialist paramedic Sean Storey, paramedic Kyle Donaldson, clinical care assistant Kim Taylor and clinical support assistant Chris Sharpe. Specialist paramedic Luke Hopper was first on scene, but was unable to make the reunion.

On 29 April, Bobby was out walking the dog when he collapsed. Luckily for him, that morning his neighbours, Don and Kathleen Moreland, were driving past the same spot. Don began CPR whilst Kathleen called 999.

Paramedic Kyle said: “I am a huge advocate for bystander CPR.  I understand how people can be apprehensive about doing it, but its benefits are undeniably crucial for the survival chances of the patient.

“On this occasion, with Don and an off-duty nurse, the quality of bystander CPR was extremely effective, and no doubt played a huge part in allowing the patient to make a full recovery. They bought us the time to get there and start our treatment and my colleague Luke administered three shocks with his defibrillator in order to get a regular heart rhythm.”

Don, who has received first aid training from his employer, said: “When I realised what happened, my mind was clear, and I knew what I had to do. It wasn’t until later when it sunk in what had happened.”

Bobby, from Seaham, said: “I have no recollection of what happened. I wasn’t feeling unwell at the time. The dog had slipped its lead and I remember bending down to pick it up. The next thing I remember was waking up as I was being wheeled into Sunderland Royal Hospital.

In hospital, Bobby, who already had two stents from a heart attack in 2005, had two more fitted. The existing stents were also cleaned out as they had become blocked. He was home three days later and has since been discharged from cardiologist and cardiac nurse.

Specialist paramedic Sean, who shared the same birthday as Bobby, said: “It is very humbling to see the patient again as it's not very often we get to find out what happened after we take them to hospital.”

To Bobby, his cardiac arrest was ‘just a blip’ and he is feeling back to normal with no lasting effects and has recently celebrated his 52nd wedding anniversary in the Lake District with his wife Mary. 

Bobby’s daughter Andrea Finkel-Gates said: “I’m beyond grateful for them bringing my dad back to life. He can get on with his life as normal, with no lasting side effects. I cannot thank the paramedics enough.

“Dad is a very quiet man and keeps himself to himself. But he was joking and laughing as we were leaving the hospital. He has a new lease of life and he’s more jovial now.”

For more information on CPR and how to use a defibrillator, go to /get-involved/learning-zone/videos.aspx

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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