Wednesday 12th March 2014 – 3.30pm – Claire Brown.
A Kidderminster man and his family will be “eternally grateful” to the ambulance staff who helped save his life.
John Wilkinson, 71, and his wife Kate Wilkinson, 65, visited Trust Headquarters yesterday (Tuesday) to be reunited with the call assessor, responder paramedic and ambulance crew that came to their aid in December last year.
Kate called 999 from their home in Caunsall, Kidderminster, at about 9am on Tuesday 17th December when John collapsed in their living room after coming down the stairs. During the 999 call, John stopped breathing. With help from Brierley Hill based 999 call assessor Claire Ballyn, Kate remembered her first aid training that she’d had some years ago and started chest compressions.
The ambulance crew arrived, just seven minutes after the 999 call, to find Kate doing excellent CPR on her husband. The crew, backed up by a responder paramedic, took over from Kate and used a defibrillator five times to restart John’s heart back into a rhythm. John, who had been resuscitated on scene, was rushed to Russell’s Hall Hospital by ambulance. He spent five days in hospital where he was fitted with an internal defibrillator.
Kate, who retired from her administrative role at a college at the end of the last academic year, said: “If I’d still been working I would have already left the house when John collapsed so the outcome would have been very different. When asked by the call taker if I was willing to do CPR, of course there was no hesitation. I thank God that I was able to keep a level head and not panic; it had been some 20 years since taking a first aid course but I am so grateful that I did and recognise the importance of the skills I had learnt. I would urge anyone to do the same as one day you may help to save a life.”
John, who is recovering well from his ordeal, said: “I have to joke about it at times as I’m still coming to terms with what happened. It’s frightening to think about it really. I don’t remember anything until later that day when I woke up in hospital, but from hearing accounts about how well Kate coped that day and how much the ambulance service did to save my life, it’s humbling and I am eternally grateful to everyone because without them I wouldn’t be here. Nobody appreciates what the NHS is until something like this happens and you experience it first-hand. They proved why the NHS is Britain’s most treasured institution.”
Responder Paramedic Rebecca Amos said: “After about two minutes of CPR you start to tire so for Kate to do seven minutes non-stop is a remarkable achievement which resulted in her husband surviving.
“We do our bit on scene, take patients to hospital and that’s it, we don’t get to see the outcome very often. It’s lovely to meet a patient that’s survived because it’s so rare and often people don’t realise how few and far between success stories are.
“This case was just before Christmas so it was especially nice to walk away from and know it was a happy outcome. Working in the ambulance service front line can be a mentally and physically exhausting job but a lovely story like this makes it all worthwhile.”
Notes to Editors:
Please remember to credit West Midlands Ambulance Service if you use the photographs or audio of the 999 call.
Pictured (left to right): Call Assessor Claire Ballyn, John Wilkinson, Kate Wilkinson and Responder Paramedic Rebecca Amos.