He had been diagnosed with throat cancer in the January, but the treatment was working and things were looking up.
One August morning he left his flat to go for a walk, and while he was out he collapsed. Unrelated to his cancer diagnosis, Greg’s heart had stopped – he later found out due to a blocked artery. Both a land ambulance and the air ambulance were called, and the crew from the land ambulance were doing CPR on Greg when the EAAA crew; Dr Antonio Bellini, trainee air ambulance doctor Vicky Smith and Critical Care Paramedic Ben Caine arrived. They hooked Greg up to the AutoPulse; a new piece of equipment that performs chest compressions, leaving the medics free to address any other clinical needs.
Greg’s heart was stopped for around 40 minutes, and with the auto pulse nearing the end of its cycle the crew were concerned that Greg wouldn’t survive. The team took a decision to let it run to the end of the cycle and as it neared the end Greg’s heart started working again.
‘What saved Greg that day was the chain of events’
Once Greg was stable he was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, with the EAAA crew, where he underwent a procedure to unblock the coronary artery that had caused his heart to arrest.
Greg has since met the crew who attended him, and addressed a room full of clinicians about his experience. While Greg has no recollection of that day, or much of the preceding months, he is clear that what the crew from the East Anglian Air Ambulance, as well as the land ambulance crew and the bystander who called for an ambulance and started CPR, did for him that day undoubtedly saved his life, and left him well enough to spend a week in October celebrating turning 50.
Reflecting on this particular rescue, Dr Vicky Smith said:
“What saved Greg that day was the chain of events; a bystander who was competent in CPR, paramedic’s administering CPR on scene, early defibrillation, good CPR with the AutoPulse, and a quick transfer and ongoing care to the hospital.”
“The Autopulse gave good chest compressions which freed up the team to do other interventions that helped his heart to start again.”