Cardiac arrest survivor ‘overwhelmed’ to be reunited with crew who saved his life

Friday 9th October 2015 – 1.15pm – Jamie Arrowsmith.

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“I don’t remember anything about it – but three weeks later, I just kept thinking today could be my funeral.”

The words of 67-year-old Barry Archer from Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, when reflecting on the night he suffered a cardiac arrest whilst sitting at home watching television with his wife, Marilyn.

West Midlands Ambulance Service staff had to shock Mr Archer six times in order to successfully restart his heart on the evening of Thursday, May 21st, 2015. Thankfully he has gone on to make a full recovery.

So much so, both Mr and Mrs Archer were able to visit the Trust’s hub in Hilton Road, Stoke, to meet and thank some of the staff who came to the rescue – Community First Responder (CFR) Ed Thompson, Paramedic Rebecca England and Technician Carl Smith. Paramedic Darren Bagguley and Technician Jonathon Blurton also attended the incident but were unable to attend the reunion.

“I don’t remember anything about the incident, the first thing I recall is being in hospital with my wife sitting at my side,” Mr Archer said.

“It was an overwhelming experience to get to meet the people who saved my life, it was difficult to find the words to express what I wanted to say.

“I cannot thank them enough for what they did for me because the only reason I am still here is directly down to them. They all deserve every bit of praise coming their way and it makes you realise that we shouldn’t take our emergency services for granted.”

His chances of survival were undoubtedly increased by the quick thinking actions of his wife, a retired midwife, who started CPR as soon as she realised what was happening.

“We were due to be going away on the Saturday and I was about to go and start packing when Barry said we should just sit down and watch TV instead,” Mrs Archer said.

“I glanced over at him and noticed he had started to shake, then suddenly he just collapsed, there was no noise, nothing.

“I rang 999 and started CPR but it was awful. He had turned blue and I kept thinking he wasn’t coming back.

“The CFR was first on scene and luckily our neighbour, Roger Morgan, is a retired policeman who came round and assisted in giving CPR.

“They then gave Barry his first shock before the ambulance crew took over. He was talking by the time they got him on the ambulance and thankfully after a week in hospital, he was able to come home and continue his recovery here.”

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Mrs Archer was quick to praise the work of the ambulance staff, including the call taker Sally Hemmings, saying: “Everyone who helped us was absolutely fantastic. It was lovely to be able to go and meet them to thank them properly.

“We took them some Heroes chocolates and a cake decorated with stars, because that’s what they are to us – but it’s not a lot for saving a life.”

Reflecting on the incident, Rebecca said: “We were just glad we were able to start Mr Archer’s heart again and are thrilled he has made a full recovery.

“There are not many occasions when we get to find out what happens to patients after we have taken them to hospital, so to meet them both in such happy circumstances was a really nice experience.”

Carl added: “Whenever we hear that one of our patients has made a full recovery it always gives you a great sense of satisfaction, but even more so in cases as serious as this one.

“It is important to highlight the role Mr Archer’s wife played in ensuring he survived. The earlier good quality CPR is started when a patient is in cardiac arrest, the better chance they will have of surviving.

“Given how stressful the situation must have been for her, I cannot praise her enough for what she did. Knowing how to perform CPR effectively is an incredibly valuable skill and may just turn you into a lifesaver one day.”

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Notes to Editors –

Picture caption (pic inside ambulance) l-r: Carl Smith (Technician), Marilyn Archer, Rebecca England (Paramedic), Ed Thompson (CFR) and Barry Archer.

If used, please credit the images to West Midlands Ambulance Service.

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