On 10 April 2016, Keston Brill was out bird-watching on his own at Sand Point near Weston-Super-Mare.  He used to do this most weekends, however, on this particular day after climbing to the top of Sand Point, he collapsed. Keston’s wife Helen kindly shares details of what happened that day…

“Keston thought that he might have had indigestion, as he had just eaten his lunch before climbing to the top of Sand Point. He believes that he sat down to take a rest, but according to bystanders who saw it happen, they said he didn’t sit down, but collapsed. Fortunately there were walkers in the vicinity who were well equipped with heat blankets; they were on holiday. One of the group was a nurse, which I am sure made a big difference. 

Several weeks after the incident I contacted the Ambulance Service as I wanted to send our thanks to the staff that helped. Subsequently, I managed to speak to one of the group members who was able to give more information on what actually happened that day.

Keston was in fact having a massive heart attack, one of three he had that afternoon. Apparently the Ambulance Service arrived and the family who had initially helped him assisted with carrying equipment to the top of Sand Point where he was located. Due to the severity of Keston’s symptoms and the obvious remote location, the paramedics decided that the air ambulance team should be tasked.  

Keston only vaguely remembers any of the details. He was apparently aware that there were people around him, but didn’t know why. He wasn’t aware of being placed inside the helicopter but was flown to Bristol Royal Infirmary. There, I was told how critically ill he was and that we would be extremely lucky if he made it through the night. Fortunately he did and was actually in hospital for a total of nine days, having four stents fitted during this time.

After 24 hours in the high dependency unit, Keston was moved to a Critical Care Unit where he stayed for another couple of days. Unfortunately he then suffered a stroke. This was an extremely worrying time for our children and I; he didn’t remember any of us or recall what year it was so, as you can imagine, it was extremely frustrating for him too.

Doctors at the Heart Institute in Bristol managed to settle him down and once he had been seen by the stroke consultants, Keston was eventually moved onto another ward where he stayed for the duration.  Unfortunately he got a chest infection which wouldn’t clear up and also spent time undergoing a number of tests, CT scans, MRI and x-rays to determine whether he hit his head when he initially fell, or whether the subsequent stroke was a result of the massive heart attacks he had suffered.

Thankfully Keston is now doing much better. He is on lots of medication and under six-monthly reviews with both the heart and stroke consultants, but we are finally getting back to some sort of normality. The stroke mainly affected him cognitively, which meant that he lost his driving licence. He had to retake his test twice before he passed and got his licence back in March 2017. He’s now looking to return to work on an eight-week phased return.

I remember the hospital staff saying at the time that had it not been for the quick reaction of the public, ambulance crew and air ambulance team, Keston may not have survived. I truly believe that we have finally turned a corner and want to say a big thank you to the air ambulance Critical Care Team who worked that day. Their skills ensured that 12 months on Keston is still with us; I still have my husband and our children still have their dad.”

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