A man who was revived with electric shocks from a defibrillator machine has got the chance to thank the firefighters who helped save his life.
Allan Law had a cardiac arrest while he was in his car, with his wife, Eileen Law, in stationary traffic on South Street, Newport.
Luckily for Mr Law, this happened near Newport Fire Station, where the firefighters have been trained to use the defibrillator machine in place at the station.
Mr Law suffered his cardiac arrest on 22 December. After spending a few weeks recovering, Mr Law has met his rescuers officially to thank them and present a cheque for he has raised for the Martin Poynter Trust, an Isle of Wight charity which supports the Stroke Association.
Speaking about the incident, Mrs Law said: “How fate was with us that this happened outside the Newport fire station. The hospital consultants, A&E doctors, paramedics and air ambulance all stated that if the firemen had not reacted so quickly and performed CPR on my husband, he would not be here today. The family thank those involved.
“We should be so proud of these wonderful firefighters and we can never thank them enough for their quick response. We would also like to thank Sarah, a passer-by, who started CPR initially on my husband, before the firefighters took over, and who also immediately rang for an ambulance.”
Leader of the Isle of Wight Council and Executive member for strategic and community partnerships and public protection, Councillor Dave Stewart, said: “I am so proud of the fire service responding so quickly to save Mr Law’s life and through their training, being able to use their skills confidently to use the defibrillator and playing such an essential part in stabilising the gentleman before the ambulance staff arrived to take over.
“Situations like this underline the need for more people to volunteer to train in the use of defibrillators and help provide a community response where time is of the essence. It is also why it beggars belief that people would vandalise defibrillator units in our communities as the frightening experience that Mr Law underwent, could happen to anyone.”
James Lucy, Station Manager at Newport Fire Station, said: “We are delighted that Allan is on the mend. Our crews are trained in the use of defibrillators and if we did not have a defibrillator on station, Allan’s situation could have become a lot worse.
“I am proud of the on-duty crew being part of the emergency services team involved in his care. This incident highlights the importance of having defibrillator units in place within the local community and recent vandalism of those units, for example, such as the one outside the library in Sandown, cannot be tolerated. We are working towards all fire stations on the Island to be fitted with a unit in the future – anyone of any age or physical health could suffer a cardiac arrest and may need access to one.”
Head of Ambulance Training and Community Response Services (ATCoRS), Louise Walker, said: “Thanks to the quick thinking and excellent actions of the Newport Fire-fighters another life has been saved. The timely and correct use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can significantly increase a person’s chance of survival following a cardiac arrest.
“Vandalism of the PAD’s must not be tolerated; the mindless actions of individuals who attempt to break or steal PAD’s can literally mean the difference between life and death. We need to work together as a community, acting as PAD guardians and be extra vigilant.”
Supt Sarah Jackson, District Commander for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said: “Well done to all those involved in saving this man’s life. This demonstrates that this important piece of kit saves people's lives.
“If people vandalise or damage this type of equipment in the community, it clearly could be putting other peoples’ lives at risk.”
The reality is that cardiac arrest can occur to anyone of any age and fitness. Within the UK it has been reported that there are around 60,000 events of community based cardiac arrest per year, that’s approximately 164 per day. Survival rates from a cardiac arrest in the UK community are historically very low but this doesn’t need to be the case; with bystander Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation and the application of a defibrillator the patient’s chance of survival can increase from 5 per cent to as much as 74 per cent.
The Emergency Services and communities are working together to increase the number of Public Access Defibrillator’s (PAD’s) on the Island. Over the past few years the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service has implemented numerous PAD’s, and have also been lucky enough to receive donations from the British Heart Foundation and The Wight Strollers enabling the placement of additional life saving devices in our local community.