Keith and Mary Trimby live close to Henstridge Airfield and frequently see our helicopter flying overhead. They have often thought how lucky they are not to have needed the team’s help. However, that suddenly changed in 2021 when both Keith and Mary needed the help of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) within 12 months of each other.

Keith and Mary Trimby

On 26th February 2021, Mary was at home recovering from a recent bowel cancer operation when things took a turn for the worse.

Mary explains:

I was sat watching TV and writing out a shopping list, when all of a sudden my legs and arms started flailing about everywhere. I didn’t know what was happening but luckily Keith was with me and phoned 999 for an ambulance.

The ambulance service arrived first on scene. When they arrived, Mary was conscious but in a dangerous heart rhythm. Suddenly her health deteriorated, she became unconscious and her heart stopped. The paramedics quickly used their defibrillator and performed CPR, which managed to restore Mary’s heart back to a normal heartbeat; she then woke up. Due to the nature of Mary suffering a cardiac arrest, the paramedics called for DSAA, so our team was deployed by air. Mary remained conscious throughout the time she was in our care. Our critical care team re-assessed her on arrival, contacted the referring hospital and then airlifted her to Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Keith explains a little more:

Mary was only just recovering from bowel cancer, so it was a bit of a shock given the circumstances. When they used the defibrillator, one of the team came into the bedroom and said to me “it worked once, which is a really good sign.” When they took her out to the air ambulance, I could see where the helicopter had landed from my bedroom window, so I watched as she flew off, which was quite an ordeal.

I was unable to see Mary in hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions and our phone signal was poor; it was so difficult at times not to have contact with her. Mary had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) fitted on 4th March and was discharged home the following day to continue with her recovery.

Just short of 12 months later, on 29th January 2022, Keith and Mary returned home from a shopping trip when things took a turn for the worse again.

Mary was deciding on what to have for dinner that evening, while Keith was sat on the edge of the bed getting dressed. After returning two minutes later, she couldn’t see him. Mary searched all around the house but couldn’t find him anywhere. She finally came back into the bedroom and heard a strange noise; it was then that she noticed Keith slumped on the floor by the side of the bed.

Keith was staring at the ceiling and breathing heavily. After repeatedly calling his name and receiving no response, Mary called 999 for an ambulance. She ran to her neighbour’s house for help; luckily, their neighbour’s son Martin and his daughter were visiting and they returned to the house with Mary. Martin started to give Keith CPR until further help arrived.

The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Outreach Car was one of the assets tasked to Keith’s incident, alongside our critical care team on the aircraft. He had excellent bystander CPR and subsequent shocks from a defibrillator before his heart restarted. The DSAA critical care team administered adrenaline to help keep Keith’s blood pressure stable, before administering an anaesthetic and then airlifting him to Royal Bournemouth Hospital for ongoing care by the cardiology team. During the flight, Keith had an electrocardiogram (ECG) of his heart, which was abnormal. Our clinicians were able to hand this information over to the Bournemouth resuscitation team when they arrived.

Keith had an ICD fitted, just like Mary. He spent six weeks in critical care followed by three weeks on the Cardiac Ward, before being discharged home.

Mary explains:

I can’t remember how long the paramedics were working on Keith for, but it was ever such a long time. When they finally took him out to the air ambulance, he was in there for a while before they could get him stable enough to fly to hospital. We were amazed that the flight from our home to hospital only took 20 minutes. That seems like a long time, but it really wasn’t.
DSAA provided such an excellent service for us both. We were also so grateful to have support from the patient and family liaison nurses, who phoned regularly to see how we were, how we were coping and if we needed any support.
We thought our story was very unusual, which is why we decided to share it with others. We also wanted people to know just how fantastic you are and to encourage people to support you. We just can’t thank you enough for helping us; we will be forever grateful!

The DSAA team that attended Mary’s incident were: Laura Bland, Owen Hammett, Harry HarrisDriscoll and Scott Armstrong. Also in attendance from the ambulance service were: Lisa Smyth, Grace Futers, Philip van Dyke and Jane Watkinson.

The DSAA team that attended Keith’s incident were: Farhad (Izzy) Islam, Michelle Walker, Paul Nolan and Mark Howard-Smith. Also in attendance from the ambulance service were: Michael Worth, Michael Thorman, Matthew Edwards, Joseph Hipgrave and Justin Prangnell.

If you've been inspired by Keith and Mary's story and would like to help us to continue saving lives, we would be grateful to receive your donation. No matter how big or small, every penny donated really will make a big difference! Thank you.

Please select a donation amount (required)
Set up a regular payment Donate

NEXT: Baby Evelyn’s Story