EMOTIONS ran high when patients and ambulance staff were reunited at the annual Our Survivors event on Sunday.
South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) held its third Our Survivors at Wakehurst Place, near Haywards Heath.
It brought together seven patients from across the region whose lives were saved and the SECAmb staff who helped them.
Adam MacDiarmaid-Gordon, a doctor from Shoreham who specialises in renal medicine, was among the survivors.
His wife, Lesley, had woken one January morning to find him breathing strangely and called daughter Katy, who was 14 at the time, for help.
Lesley said: “Nothing really prepares you for something like this. The shock of the situation forces you to react instinctively and that is what we did.”
With ambulance crews on the way to the house, Lesley and Katy carried out CPR, a first aid technique to help people suffering cardiac arrest, supported over the phone by emergency medical adviser David Notts.
“Our daughter Katy was an absolute star,” added Lesley. “She was just so calm.”
First on the scene was paramedic Jon Griffiths, a single responder with more than 10 years’ experience. He said Adam had been lucky to get ‘fantastic early CPR’.
Jon added: “You do your very best but it is fantastic and makes the job so worthwhile when you can see that you are giving a family back their loved one.”
Critical care paramedic Andy Hitt said Adam had a heart attack while they were treating him but he started to make a recovery and became stable enough to be taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Adam can’t remember anything about that day, or the days leading up to it, but the life-saving treatment from his family and ambulance staff meant he made a full recovery and was back at work a few months later. He expressed ‘sincere gratitude’.
As part of the Our Survivors event, each patient and member of the SECAmb team involved in their treatment was presented with a special memento pin badge.
SECAmb chief executive Paul Sutton said: “This event is a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to all our staff and celebrate the lives which have been saved as a result of their tremendous work – from our emergency medical advisers in the first moments of an emergency to the work of those at the scene who provide highly-skilled life-saving care in often extremely challenging circumstances.
“The clinical interventions made by our staff, our community first responders, members of the public and indeed relatives are essential in ensuring patients have the best possible chance of survival.
“I am always humbled when I hear of these amazing stories and the lives that have been saved. They are of course just a few examples of the excellent work that goes on in the ambulance service every day. I’d like to thank every patient and their families and friends for being so willing to share their stories with us to help us highlight the vital importance of early CPR and celebrate the achievements of our staff.”