When Stephanie Lehmann suffered a cardiac arrest, being flown to hospital by Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance saved precious time.

The incident

2022 was shaping up to be a wonderful year! It started with me finding the love of my life the day after my 39th birthday; we had fun going on dates, we introduced each other to family and friends and even decided to move in together. The date for this new beginning was set for 14th August 2022 - how exciting it all was!

Then, on the 29th July 2022, two weeks before the moving in date, we hit a little bump in the road; I had a cardiac arrest and died for a short time.

I remember nothing about the day – my memory of the incident has been completely wiped out. However, apparently after having a slightly stressful week, my partner and I went for a lovely afternoon walk and dinner in Lyme Regis. We had a fantastic time, but when we got back to the car to drive home, I said I felt dizzy. Shortly after, my heart stopped.

The 999 call for help

Luckily for me, my partner reacted quickly and dialled 999 for an ambulance. Moreover, a third-year medical student was walking through the car park at the time and saw my partner trying to perform CPR. She came over, as did two helpful young men who lifted me out of the car, so that the student could start performing ‘firstclass’ CPR.

Apparently there was a defibrillator in the car park, so my partner ran, grabbed it and handed it over. Before long, there were ambulances, first responders and the air ambulance on scene. Everyone worked tirelessly for 25 minutes to save my life.

The arrival of help

The air ambulance crew stabilised me for the flight to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and prepared me so that I could go straight to the Intensive Care Unit, rather than spend time in A&E. The journey by air definitely saved precious minutes compared to going by road.

After just over 24 hours in an induced coma, the hospital staff woke me up. I think they expected me to have some sort of brain injury, due to the lack of oxygen to my brain over such a sustained period of time. Miraculously, although I was confused for a while and most certainly had trouble with my memory for some time, I have made a full recovery! I now have an implanted defibrillator (ICD), am back at work full-time and my partner and I are now engaged!

None of this would have been possible without the fantastic help of strangers and the wonderful work of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. The stars aligned for me that day and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

VIEW FROM THE CREW: Jo Hernandez, Specialist Practitioner in Critical Care

Stephanie DSAA Past patient

We are so thrilled to hear from Stephanie and delighted that she is doing well. Stephanie’s story shows an excellent example of a patient’s chain of survival. There was an off-duty medical student at the scene who provided excellent CPR. Stephanie was shocked with a defibrillator five times before her circulation returned to a normal level.

When Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance arrived, Stephanie had started to reach up towards her face and had tried to wake up slightly. To keep her more stable and prevent any further complications (particularly in flight), our team administered a pre-hospital anaesthetic and popped her off to sleep.

She received further drugs during the flight to hospital, which kept her sedated. After arriving at hospital, Stephanie had a quick pit stop in the Emergency Department to ensure that she was still stable, before going directly to the Cath Lab, so that they could look into the cause of her cardiac arrest.

Early CPR and early defibrillation are the first two links in the chain of survival; without those things, Stephanie would not have survived.

Chain of Survival. Early recognition and call for help - to prevent cardiac arrest. Early CPR - to buy time. Early Defibrillation - to restart the heart. Post resuscitation care - to restore quality of life.

The DSAA team that attended Stephanie’s incident were: Rob Török, Harry Harris- Driscoll, Dan Kitteridge and Dan Volpi. Also in attendance from the ambulance service were: Philip Turner, Evelyn Clarke, Louisa Hill and Steve Watkinson.

If you've been inspired by Stephanie'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.

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NEXT: Harry's Story