I am amazed by this following story and realise how incredibly slim are the chances that I am alive to write this, with a fully functioning brain to boot.
Let me explain.
On the morning of 15 April 2017 my wife, Ann, and I had been exploring a guided walk I was planning to lead for our rambling group around the historic parts of the Digbeth area of Birmingham.
It seems, from notes I took as we were exploring, that we had almost completed our three-mile perambulation and were heading for our favourite vegetarian restaurant, The Warehouse Cafe, for lunch. Nearly there, I suddenly keeled over on to my right side on the pavement. Ann thought I had tripped but soon realised I wasn’t responding. Soon a group of onlookers had gathered to witness the scene, one had phoned for an ambulance but no-one was offering further assistance. Then suddenly a passing motorist, Judy, was there. Ann was trying to rouse me by shaking my shoulders and Judy said, “Don’t do that, he’s had a cardiac arrest”.
Judy just happened to be a nurse. She immediately took control of the situation, and started cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Another bystander (unknown and untraced) offered to help and between them they kept my circulation and breathing going until two ambulances arrived. With all their fancy gear they defibrillated me twice on the pavement and once more on the way to City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham.
I have since done some investigations and discovered that the chances of surviving, in this country, what is medically known as an out-of-hospital VF Cardiac Arrest is around 4-10% (with or without brain damage) and then, only if a competent person is on hand at that very moment to apply CPR. A lot of people might think they could do it but not many would be confident enough to apply enough pressure to fracture several ribs in the process (a necessary and painful side effect that I am not moaning about). Survival chances are significantly increased if a defibrillator is to hand.
At the hospital I was quickly transferred to the catheter lab where three stents were put in my right coronary artery by Dr Derek Connolly, following which I was transferred to critical care where I was kept in a coma for three days before learning what had happened.
Over the following weeks and months I was gradually able to resume normal life. Amongst a lot of other activities, this involves several Tai Chi classes per week. At the same time I was developing strong feelings of wanting to “give something back” by making it my mission to try to get as many people as possible trained in how to apply effective first aid to people going through what I did.
By chance I discovered that Mike Bennett, a fellow Tai Chi student but in another of our school’s classes, was the lead resuscitation officer for Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. He kindly offered to freely give his time to teach any courses that I could organise. Then up popped two others from our school, Barbara and Dawn, volunteering to come on board. As long as I could find venues and attract people, we were ready to roll.
We have been incredibly lucky to have been offered local venues free of charge, meaning our courses are completely free to the participants. This is great because we have no funding and have very much been relying on word of mouth to keep going, and going well so far. As of August 2018 we have seen 226 people trained over six courses in Sutton Coldfield and Aldridge. But, we can’t be complacent; as yet we have barely scratched the surface.
We now have a blog where people can be kept updated about future courses and other useful information from the world of basic life support.
For more information, visit CPRcounts.wordpress.com and better still ‘follow us’ when you get there.