The Sir Ranulph Fiennes Story – A Good Day to Die
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, as described by the Guinness Book of Records, is the greatest living explorer. In 1993 he became one of the first men to walk unaided across Antartica, overcoming life-threatening situations in the process.
When you hear his name you think fitness and stamina but in June 2003 after boarding a flight to Edinburgh at Bristol Airport he suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Fortunately the Airport's firefighters were able to revive Sir Ranulph using an Automatic External Defibrillator, a device that shocks the heart. He later underwent a double heart bypass operation at Bristol Royal Infirmary Hospital.
Sir Ranulph doesn’t remember anything three days prior to the attack as well as the three days after the attack, so his thoughts on his heart stopping are all second hand.
He says of the arrest “I know I am amazingly lucky to have had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest at an airport that had a defibrillator in easy reach and had the expert assistance of the Blue Watch of the Bristol Airport Fire Station who were able to attend immediately”.
“I also feel very lucky to be alive, because the truth is most people who suffer a Cardiac Arrest are not in hospital surrounded by doctors, but at home or in public places. Many do not survive because life saving treatment simply does not come quickly enough”.
“The surgeons and firefighters who worked in me all say the key item in surviving a Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the availability of a defibrillator within 2 or 3 minutes. This means that defibrillators should be available in places where there are lots of people such as supermarkets, shopping centres, airports etc.”
“In future all expeditions I embark on will have a defibrillator as standard kit along with morphine, a first aid kit etc”
“If you had a defibrillator, which is a small comparatively inexpensive item, set up in these places as it will make all the difference - I know because I’m alive because there was one at an airport”.