Ken Hutton’s cardiac arrest on the golf course led to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance being called in...

On Friday 14th April 2017, I was playing in a pairs golf match at Wells Golf Club against Vivary Park Golf Club (Rose Bowl Competition). My golf partner, Steve Symonds, tells me that we were playing down the fourth fairway and had discussed what the next shot should be. I hit a five iron to the green which, I understand, Steve was pleased about, as it put us in a good position. He’s generally tough to please!

The cardiac arrest

Steve turned around after watching the shot, only to find me face downwards on the ground. I didn’t respond when he called out, so he checked my breathing and pulse. Immediately he called other people and then, as Steve had recently done a first aid course, he started on CPR. Other golfers from Vivary Park GC apparently ran over and took turns in administering CPR. Someone else had rung 999 to call for an ambulance, while another went to retrieve the defibrillator from the club house, which I believe was used to try to kick-start my heart.

What happened when the helicopter arrived

While the golfers were attending to me, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance arrived within about 10 minutes to take over treatment. I was flown to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Bristol Royal Infirmary for further treatment. (I now understand from the air ambulance team that the early intervention of CPR from the golfers was a major factor in my recovery).

In the meantime, Steve and a fellow golfer had kindly collected my wife from home and taken her to the Cardiac Unit in Bristol. (Steve has been a great support to my wife and myself). I was in the ICU for about nine days, before being moved to the cardiac wing of the hospital. Due to the wonderful care and support from the staff, I recovered enough to be able to go home after only three weeks in hospital. Amazingly, having been given various tests and scans to help try and find the cause of the cardiac arrest, the medical team couldn’t find a specific cause. We were told that this happens sometimes, and that it’s ‘just one of those mysteries’.

The recovery in hospital

I am grateful to my wife Penny and my daughter Nicki, who stayed by my side and visited me in hospital every day. Also, my son Paul and partner Claire who, immediately heard what had happened, travelled from the Midlands to be with me. They were able to stay at the hospital for the whole of the first week, but sadly I don’t remember anything about that week. I would also like to thank all the visitors I received at that time, but once again, don’t remember.

I am also very grateful to my golfing partner on the day, Steve, for his help and support; the Vivary Park Golfers; and the staff at the BRI Cardiac Unit. Above all, I will be eternally grateful for the existence of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, in particular, the crew on that day for the quick and professional way they handled everything, thus saving my life!

Finally, my sincere thanks go to all the background staff and volunteers at the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, for the work that they do to make sure this wonderful service continues.  


The first time I met Ken, he was unconscious on a golf course after his heart had stopped beating. The swift reactions of those who gave good quality CPR aided the continued delivery of oxygen to Ken’s brain and heart. He was quickly attended to by three ambulance clinicians and a community first responder, who continued to resuscitate him with the aid of a defibrillator. Together, these actions helped to save Ken’s life.

When we arrived in the air ambulance, Ken’s heart had been shocked back into a normal rhythm and he was starting to show signs of recovery. To give him the best chance of getting better, we administered an anaesthetic and provided ventilation, which enabled his heart and brain to relax. He was then flown to the Specialist Cardiac Centre at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

The next time we met was a year or so later, when Ken came back to visit us; he was beaming from ear to ear! It was a total privilege to meet his family, who had given him so much support throughout his recovery, and to talk through Ken’s experience of survivorship. It’s a delight to know that he has returned to living such a fulfilling life. 

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