“I was back on my feet within a couple of weeks, thanks to the GWAAC team”

When David Heap suffered chest pains and breathlessness he recognised the signs of a cardiac arrest and knew that he was in a serious situation.

David had just returned home after a family get together when he started to feel unwell. He had suffered a cardiac arrest in 1990 and so recognised the symptoms. He and his wife Alyson knew that this was potentially life-threatening, and they had to act fast.

On average our Critical Care Team attend four incidents a day, of which one is usually a cardiac arrest. On this day the call came in at around 8pm, after the helicopter had gone offline. We only fly during daylight hours, as night flying is more expensive due to the specialised equipment required, and is also more dangerous as the crew can’t see things like powerlines.

Critical Care Paramedic Pete Sadler and Critical Care Doctor Paddy Morgan headed to the scene by car, arriving just 10 minutes later. When they arrived they found David conscious and alert, but complaining of chest pains.

They assessed David’s condition, and made the decision to perform an electrical cardioversion, which is where an electric current is used to reset the heart’s rhythm back to its regular pattern. This worked, and the crew transported David to the Bristol Royal Infirmary for further tests. CCP Pete said:

“David complained of suddenly feeling very unwell. His symptoms included palpitations, dizziness and chest pain. He had on-going chest pain,therefore we made the decision for electrical cardioversion, which resulted in successful cardioversion.”

David spent nine days in hospital, and had an ICD fitted, which keeps his heart at a regular rhythm. He said:

“I was back on my feet within a couple of weeks thanks to the fantastic work and care from the GWAAC team, who administered to me with great care and consideration and as a result saved my life.”

by Andy Crow