Dave Parker is a keen mountain-bike rider who often gets together with a group of friends for ride-outs. Last year, on the evening of 15th December, a scheduled group gathering didn’t exactly go to plan. No-one could have imagined the night would turn out the way that it did. Dave kindly tells us more…

“I am a 42-year-old Engineer from Weymouth, married with two children, and have a great group of friends. I am quite an active person, regularly exercising by various means. In recent years, I have completed two Ironman distance triathlons and last year I ran two marathons.

“Our plan for the night included a group of runners (which we called the ‘Hares’). They would complete a short distance course and then a group of cyclists (which we called the ‘Hounds’), would complete a longer course and ultimately catch them up before returning to the ‘Hobbit Hut’ (Alex’s garden shed/cabin). Whichever group returned first were the winners! Fancy dress was recommended in the form of floppy ears and furry bike decorations.

“We set out from Alex’s place and headed off, following the map. During the early part of the ride I complained to my friends about having indigestion; I had recently eaten. Our route took us through Broadmayne before we took a left turn onto Osmington Drove. It was at this point that I fell off my bike. Apparently, I went down pretty hard and the call went out: ‘Man down’. When I failed to get up, the guys said: ‘Come on Dave, stop messing about!’ to which I did not respond. I had in fact suffered a cardiac arrest!

“Everyone came over to have a closer look and quickly realised I was in a bad way. I was not breathing, had no pulse and was making a groaning noise. They began CPR and called 999. After around 20 minutes, paramedics arrived in a land ambulance and rapid response vehicle; they quickly connected me to a defibrillator. Two shocks later and my heart started beating… I was back, however, not yet out of the woods!

“It wasn’t long before Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance arrived at the scene. The helicopter had the perfect landing spot really, as my incident happened adjacent to a football pitch. If it had been five minutes before, we would have been riding through fields and tracks.

“Although I remember very little, I do know that if my friends had not given me CPR that night, I would not be here today. The teamwork from the Emergency Services was also incredible; I am extremely aware of the importance of the defibrillator used by the paramedics, before being handed over to the air ambulance crew who ensured that I was stable enough to be flown to Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

“The following morning, I was fitted with a stent, which opened a blockage of 80/90% to my left arterial descending artery. Two days later I was discharged and spent a few months at home recovering. When I look back, I had experienced a few episodes of angina when I exercised, however, I hadn’t realised what they were before it was too late. What I do know is that I was incredibly lucky!

“I certainly learnt a lot from the whole experience and would encourage people to learn CPR because IT WORKS! Just imagine if you were in a situation like my friends and you didn’t know how to help. Please also try and find the location of your nearest defibrillator because they work too!”

A VIEW FROM THE CREW – Sean Santos

I was the doctor on the twilight shift on the night of Dave’s incident. It was one of my first night flights. As Dave has already highlighted, it was the prompt actions of his friends in applying CPR that really made a difference.

We often refer to the ‘Chain of Survival’, and the first link in that chain is early and effective CPR. This is what Dave’s friends provided. Indeed it was so effective, speaking to one of those who were performing the CPR after the event, Dave’s level of consciousness was improving even before the application of the defibrillator.

He required an immediate cardiac intervention and we were able to keep Dave’s condition stable during his transfer to Bournemouth Hospital, where he was able to undergo the necessary life-saving procedure. This done, it was great to subsequently hear of his recovery.

On a very personal note I took part in this year’s Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge, completing the shorter course from Drimpton to West Bay. It was very moving to be greeted by Dave, his wife and his mother at the finish line.

As soon as Dave was fit and able, he wanted to give something back and raise funds for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. Together, he and his friends planned a 60-mile cycle ride, which would start from the scene of Dave’s incident, take them to our Henstridge airbase and back again. This took place on Sunday 13th May and a total of 55 riders aged between 11 and 60 took part.

Dave said: “The whole day was a fantastic experience for all. It was so special to complete the ride with nearly everyone that was there on the evening of my incident. An enormous effort was made by everyone and so far we have raised £5,995.51 (including gift aid). Perhaps we can do it again next year?”

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