Phil Gregory was preparing to attend a family party when he suffered a cardiac arrest. Every element of the chain of survival was present on the day of his incident; without that, things could have been very different.

The day of the incident

It was a bright and sunny day in August. The day started with my wife and I helping to run the Ringwood and Fordingbridge Lions bookstall during the morning. I was moving boxes of books around, putting up tables and gazebos, as well as selling books – it was no more energetic than my day job driving a lorry and delivering bricks.

Just after 12 o’clock we left Ringwood to head to Weymouth, where we were staying overnight in a hotel as we had been invited to a housewarming party at our niece’s new home.

The traffic was quite slow, so we decided to stop for lunch at a pub we were passing. During lunch we were talking about the need for both of us to lose weight and become fitter. We discussed buying a treadmill and sorting out the garage to be able to exercise in.

On leaving the pub, the traffic was much better and we had a lovely leisurely drive in the sunshine to the hotel, arriving shortly after 3.00pm.

We went to our room for a rest before heading to the party. My wife got ready to go out and I laid on the bed. Shortly after 4.00pm I went to get up off the bed and suddenly felt unwell. At first, I thought it was indigestion, so I continued to get ready. As I sat on the edge of the bed to put my shoes on, I began to experience a pain in my left arm which quickly spread across my chest.

  • Duck 1 - My wife said, “I think I should call an ambulance” and did so.
  • Duck 2 - My sister-in-law (who was already at my niece’s house) is a nurse and she arrived at the hotel.
  • Duck 3 -The first team of paramedics arrived and confirmed I was having a heart attack. It was soon agreed that I should be transferred to Royal Bournemouth Hospital who had a specialist cardiac unit. The quickest way to get me there was by air ambulance.
  • Duck 4 - The team at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance were available and flew to a landing site at Weymouth Rugby Club nearby.
  • Duck 5 – A second team of paramedics arrived to help transfer me to the air ambulance as hotel lifts are not designed for stretchers! I suddenly went into cardiac arrest, so they were dispatched to collect the air ambulance team from the aircraft.
  • Duck 6 - The first paramedic team started CPR.
  • Duck 7 - The hotel had a defibrillator!
  • Duck 8 - The air ambulance team arrived as I was being shocked. They administered medication and after a few minutes I was back in the room, although very unstable.
  • Duck 9 – Due to the skill of the paramedics and the air ambulance team, I was alive. With much reluctance on my part and with their help, I got off the floor onto a stretcher chair, was placed in the land ambulance and whisked away to the Rugby Club where the aircraft was ready and waiting to fly me to hospital.
  • Duck 10 – With the skill of the team keeping me alive, I arrived at Royal Bournemouth Hospital where the cardiac team were waiting for me.
  • Duck 11 – I was whisked immediately into the Cath Lab and had two stents fitted to my heart.

By 8.00pm I was sat up in bed wondering what had just happened!

Phil's recovery

I was only in hospital for two days while they monitored my heart and set up my medication. This was followed by three months’ rest and recuperation at home. After that, I began eight weeks of weekly cardiac rehabilitation, which gave me advice on how to improve my lifestyle and set me on a path of cardiac exercises that I continue to do once a week.

During this time, I was contacted by Jo Petheram from the charity’s Patient and Family Liaison Team. She was kind and supported me throughout my recovery and arranged for me to meet Dr Phil Hyde, the air ambulance doctor who attended to me that day. I was able to talk with him about that day and he helped to fill the gaps in my memory, as well as providing help with processing what happened to me.

So, here I am ten months later. Although I sometimes get tired and forget things, I am now back at work, driving a lorry and delivering bricks. I am living my life and forever grateful to everyone who worked so hard to save my life.

Looking back on the day of the heart attack

That day in August was just an ordinary day. I wasn’t ill, I hadn’t been unwell, I wasn’t doing anything risky or dangerous, but I temporarily died. My ducks were certainly aligned and thanks to Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, I live to tell the tale.

I am sharing my story as a tribute to this wonderful, highly skilled and hardworking team. Also, to thank the people who donate to the charity, which meant that they were there when I needed help. I hope people continue to donate, so that others, like me, have their chance to live another day.

The DSAA team that attended Phil’s incident were: Phil Hyde, Harry Harris-Driscoll and Kev Rutherford. Also in attendance from the ambulance service were: John Shine, Simon Gill, Jake Bailes and Anya Kidd.

If you've been inspired by Phil'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 for supporting your local air ambulance.

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NEXT: Russell's Story