Birmingham cardiac arrest survivor thanks ambulance staff


Friday 11th April 2014 – 12.30pm – Claire Brown.

A Birmingham man who suffered a cardiac arrest in January has, this week, said thank you in person to the ambulance staff who helped to save his life.

On Friday 31st January, self-employed electrician Jonathan Gilkes was rewiring in a loft when he started to feel pains in his chest. Thinking nothing of it and putting it down to over stretching, Jonathan carried on working. By 11pm the same day, Jonathan’s chest pain had worsened. Home alone and feeling decidedly unwell, he reluctantly dialled 999.

A paramedic officer attended and, after carrying out a full set of medical checks including an ECG, the paramedic was baffled to find signs that anything was wrong. It was then that Jonathan collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. The paramedic immediately commenced CPR and requested an ambulance back up which arrived within minutes.

The ambulance crew and paramedic continued resuscitation and delivered a shock to his heart with a defibrillator which, after half an hour of CPR, successfully restarted his heart. He was rushed to City Hospital where Jonathan spent five days in an induced coma and a further five days in hospital after having three stents fitted in his heart.

Jonathan, a 49-year-old father of three from Deritend in Birmingham City Centre, visited Erdington Ambulance Hub on Tuesday (8th April) with his mum, dad and son. Upon meeting the ambulance crew, he said: “I’ve never called 999 before and felt awkward doing it, but I definitely called for the right reason and at the right time because it was only for the fact that I suffered a cardiac arrest in front of a paramedic that I survived.

“Everybody’s told me how lucky I was, including the surgeons at hospital and my own doctor, as it took 31 minutes to restart my heart. The skills you’ve got meant that I’m here today and have got a second chance and for that I’ll be forever thankful. I’d also like to thank the doctors and nurses at the Critical Care Unit at City Hospital for keeping me alive.”

Jonathan’s son, Andrew Gilkes from Walsall, said: “It’s not a little thing saving someone’s life, it’s a big thing and something that you guys don’t get the recognition you deserve. The doctors at hospital told us to prepare for the worst to start with as when your heart has stopped for that long there’s a chance of brain damage. They couldn’t believe how well he recovered and said it was the quality of the CPR you did on my Dad that saved his life.

“We will never forget what you did for my Dad; you not only saved his life but saved our whole families happiness because he’s still here and healthier than ever before.”

Paramedic Rachael Grant was one half of the ambulance crew that attended Jonanthan and said: “It was one of those jobs where everything fell into place. We managed to restart his heart with just one defib shock and en route to hospital he was becoming more and more alert the closer we got which is always a good feeling.

“I’ve never had a personal thank you from a patient so it’s been really nice to see Jonathan and his family. There are so many jobs that ambulance staff attend where we often wonder what happened to a patient once we’ve left A&E so it was great to see that Jonathan has made a fantastic recovery from what was the most traumatic experience you could ever go through.”



Notes to Editor:

 Group photograph (left to right): Jonathan Gilkes, Fred Gilkes (Jonathan’s father), Andrew Gilkes (Jonathan’s son), Marion Gilkes (Jonathan’s mother), Rachael Grant (paramedic) and Gary Smith (technician).




  1. Well done you and what a lovely outcome, good to see Mr Gilkes looking so fit and well. Keep up the good work and how nice to be able to thank you in person. Great to hear that defibrillators are such useful and valued pieces of equipment.

  2. Still forever grateful for what WMAS did for my dad. Ambulance staff do not get enough focus or media attention for the amazing work that they do. However, Unfortunately he did pass away 4 years after this photo was taken due to liver failure. Drew (son)

    1. Hi there Drew,

      We’re so sorry to hear about the passing of your father, and send you and your family our condolences. Thank you for your incredibly kind words about our staff.

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