Mark Long’s story is another incredible example of the ‘chain of survival’. While working on top of his garage, things took a serious turn for the worse. Fortunately, with many people’s help, Mark is with us today and kindly shares his story with us all…

The incident

I was carrying out some repairs on my garage roof, while my daughter Millie was busy preparing dinner. Her boyfriend Olly came outside to let me know that it was ready, only to find that I had collapsed.

He climbed up on the roof and started to shout for help, while Millie phoned 999. Luckily, my neighbour Brian was getting out of his car and heard Olly shouting. Brian joined him and started giving me CPR; thankfully, he had been taught this at his son’s football club.

The arrival of help

Another neighbour, Darren, joined Olly and Brian on the roof, while Brian’s wife Charlotte made her way to the local pub to get the defibrillator that was located there. However, the community first responders had been alerted to my turmoil and arrived with a defibrillator before she had returned from the pub.

I can’t remember anything about the incident as I was unconscious throughout, however, I’m told that I received one shock before an ambulance, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) and the fire service turned up to help. The assistance from the fire service wasn’t needed in the end, as I was carried down from the roof by the first responders, neighbours and my friends.

The DSAA crew placed me into an induced coma and airlifted me to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. I have no recollection of my time in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). In fact, I have no memory of at least a week before my incident and my memory only became clear once I was in the Coronary Care Unit.

Mark's recovery

Mark long patient

The treatment and care that I received from the point of the incident until leaving the hospital was impeccable. I was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and considering what I have been through, my recovery has been fairly good. I feel really lucky to be alive, with no long-term issues to my mobility and brain function.

Sam Rutherford, one of DSAA’s patient and family liaison nurses, was truly amazing from the start. Millie and I first met her when she visited us at home, which enabled us to ask questions about the care I had received. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to visit the charity’s airbase and meet some of those who were involved in caring for me that day. This included the 999 call handler, one of the nurses from the ICU and most of the crew from the air ambulance. It was a very humbling and emotional experience, which saw me welling up on a number of occasions. However, it enabled me to listen to the timeframes of the incident, ask many questions that I had and to also thank everyone involved.

I have spent most of my adult life as a firefighter, so I have worked hand-in-hand with the air ambulance crews and know that their work helps to mitigate severe injuries and saves lives. DSAA is a charity that depends on donations from the public, so I hope that by sharing my story, it promotes their vital work.

I will be eternally grateful to all involved for saving my life and getting me to hospital so swiftly. Without this, I don’t think I would be here to tell my tale today.”

VIEW FROM THE CREW: Sam Rutherford, Patient and Family Liaison Nurse

Mark’s life was saved with the help of many different individuals and teams on the day of his incident. His family and neighbours did a sterling job delivering CPR and without that, things might have been very different. Those in attendance included an off-duty paramedic, two community first responders, our ambulance service colleagues, DSAA’s Somerset outreach car and our critical care team on the aircraft.

Ollie Zorab (DSAA Specialist Practitioner in Critical Care) was working from home at the time, when a GoodSAM alert was activated. GoodSAM is a system used by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, to alert staff and volunteers to patients experiencing a cardiac arrest within their immediate vicinity. He, along with an off-duty paramedic and two community first responders, arrived within minutes of the 999 call. Fortunately, CPR had already begun and after the use of a defibrillator, Mark’s heart began beating in just three minutes. He was gently lowered from the roof and post-resuscitation care began before DSAA’s critical care team arrived by air.

To minimise any injury to the brain and to have his breathing supported by a ventilator, the critical care team administered a pre-hospital emergency anaesthetic. He was then airlifted to hospital where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

Within the first few days, I was contacted by the ICU nurses who felt that it would be an appropriate time to offer our support. In my initial phone call to Millie, I introduced myself and our patient and family liaison service and made arrangements to visit Mark and Millie at home. This enabled me to explain the pre-hospital care he received, offer any emotional support and signpost them to other organisations which could help.

It has been a pleasure to support the family during Mark’s recovery and to see him looking so well when he came back to visit us. His story, once again, highlights an incredible chain of survival and how everyone involved really did make such a vital difference to his outcome.

The DSAA crew that attended Mark’s incident were: Ollie Zorab (DSAA Clinical Staff Responder), Josh Bianchi (DSAA Somerset Outreach Car), Farhad Islam, Amy McGufficke, Tom Gee and Dan Smith (DSAA critical care team by aircraft). Also in attendance from the ambulance service were: James Bartlett, Ellis Pearce, George Pemble-Vincent, Alex Fowler and Marcus Hopkins.

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