“I actually died on the squash court floor”
Here are some real-life stories of people who have been fortunate enough to have had their lives saved by a HeartSafe defibrillator after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest.
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 Antarctica, 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”.
“In future all expeditions I embark on will have a defibrillator as a standard kit along with morphine, a first aid kit etc”
“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.”
“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”.
The Gary Humphries Story – “Kick Start your Heart!”
‘I actually died on the squash court floor’, said Gary of Caerphilly, South Wales.
Gary Humphries will never forget the time his heart stopped beating for more than two minutes as he played his weekly game of squash. The 49-year old suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest in the middle of a game in November 2003 and had no pulse or heartbeat.
Fortunately for Gary, he and his squash partner were playing at the Hawthorne Leisure Centre in Rhondda Cynon Taff, where a new type of resuscitation device was available.
The LIFEPAK™ defibrillator was put on his chest and moments later his heart was beating again.
Gary said: ‘I felt nothing, no pain or anything. In fact, I remember very little about it. I was clinically dead for 2 minutes. I would not have pulled through but for the defibrillator, and if we hadn’t gone to that particular Leisure Centre I’d be dead.”
7 out of 10 Cardiac Arrests such as that suffered by Gary, happen outside the hospital and only a tiny fraction of victims survive, largely because of the lack of rapidly available resuscitation equipment.
The chances of survival drop by up to 10% for every minute that goes by without treatment.
Less than 5% of people in the UK survive Cardiac Arrest outside hospital whereas the rate in Seattle climbed to 40% after defibrillators were been made available to the public.
Gary was playing against his friend and work colleague, Mike Smith, when he collapsed, and together they campaigned for a defibrillator to be installed at their workplace. Since Gary resumed work in September 2004, their employer, General Electric, has invested in a defibrillator.