On 7th May 2020, Police Community Support Officer Mark Lane and his colleague Pete were cycling along a disused railway line (trailway). Pete was cycling in front when he suddenly heard a crash. He turned around to see Mark on the floor with no sign of life. Mark’s wife Leonie kindly tells us more.

Six weeks into the first lockdown, Mark had a cardiac arrest out of the blue while out on police cycle patrol. Thankfully he was with a colleague, Pete, who swung into action to get the emergency services on their way. Within 30 seconds, an off-duty nurse and her husband appeared on scene and helped get CPR underway. Within another minute, an off-duty hospital doctor and his wife came along and took charge. Thankfully, it was busy that day along the trailway!

Being taken to Royal Bournemouth Hospital

The first I knew about the whole event was when a police officer knocked at my door. I was blue-lighted to Royal Bournemouth Hospital, but it was well over an hour before Mark arrived by ambulance. At the same time, the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance helicopter was landing behind me on the helipad. I saw Mark being wheeled into A&E; he looked incredibly poorly, with tubes and wires protruding from all over the place. An air ambulance critical care paramedic, also called Pete, took me to one side to say how grave Mark’s situation was, but how the whole team had worked on him to try to stabilise him; he had suffered multiple arrests by then. The hospital gave me a brief update and told me Mark had been taken to the Cath Lab, then they sent me home as I was unable to see him.

The weeks following Mark's cardiac arrest

Our two daughters were at home with us for lockdown, so we were able to comfort each other as we waited for news. A phone call that first night advised me that Mark was being transferred to St Thomas’ hospital in London, as he needed to be put onto an ECMO machine due to the start of multi-organ failure. St Thomas’s brought the machine to Bournemouth as Mark would not have survived the journey to London. He was in the Intensive Care Unit (ITC) in London for three weeks, but due to COVID-19 we were not allowed to visit. The only communication was via an iPad, one-way of course as Mark was in a coma. We spoke to him and recorded messages from family and friends to try to bring him round. After three weeks, Mark was stable enough to be transferred back to ICU at Bournemouth and we were allowed to see him by the lake in the grounds of the hospital. He was wheeled out in his ICU bed, and we were togged up in PPE, but it was so good to be able to see him. He looked so unwell and was fairly uncommunicative.

We had amazing support throughout this time from our church family, from a distance of course. We had meals delivered to our doorstep and enough flowers to open a florist shop! After almost five weeks, Mark began to be a bit more communicative and I was allowed to visit him for an hour a day on the ward and take him out to the lake in a wheelchair. I witnessed his first steps supported by physios on both sides. He has no memory of the first month and a bit, which is probably a good thing. Six weeks to the day, Mark was brought home by the physio team, with friends and neighbours lining our road clapping and cheering. It was certainly an emotional homecoming!

Mark's recovery journey

Mark’s recovery was slow to start with, but he gradually built up the distance he could walk. His shoulders took several months of physio to recover and he has been left with a dropping right foot, which is helped by wearing a Boxia strap. His heart is working at reduced capacity and is well-managed by medication, and his in-built defibrillator/pacemaker provides reassurance. He has returned to work on reduced hours in an admin capacity, but sadly is no longer allowed to go out running.

In July 2021 we were finally able to meet the air ambulance team who helped to save Mark’s life, accompanied by PCSO Pete. Jo Petheram, the charity’s Patient and Family Liaison Nurse arranged the visit. She has been a friendly and helpful contact right from the start and it was great to finally get to meet her on the day. We will always be incredibly grateful to each and every person who has been a part of this extraordinary story.

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

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASfT) dispatched several resources to Mark’s incident, including DSAA’s outreach car and aircraft. The outreach car was being manned by Pete Appleby (Specialist Practitioner in Critical Care) and the crew on the aircraft were Dr Stewart McMorran, Jo Hernandez (Specialist Practitioner in Critical Care) and Pilot Max Hoskins.

Pete Appleby arrived on scene just after the first ambulance. Advanced life support was ongoing and Mark had already been defibrillated a number of times, however, he was now in a non-shockable heart rhythm (pulseless electrical activity - PEA). Pete Appleby prioritised optimising Mark’s airway, while chest compressions and advanced life support were continued by the ambulance crews.

Due to the challenging location and geography of the area, the aircraft landed some distance away from the incident site. The crew were met by a police response car who subsequently drove us to the scene.

Mark was ventilated with high flow oxygen and his core temperature was monitored after insertion of an oesophageal core temperature probe. Intravenous access was gained and our LUCAS chest compression device was attached to his chest. Advanced life support drugs were administered and intravenous fluids were commenced. A blood sample was taken, in order to check his blood biochemistry and after a further 20 minutes, Mark developed a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). He was given a pre-hospital anaesthetic using ketamine and rocuronium in order to provide him with adequate sedation and paralysis following his ROSC. Anaesthesia continued with a ketamine infusion, driven through a syringe driver via a peripheral vein. An arterial line was inserted into Mark’s radial artery, enabling the team to commence invasive blood pressure monitoring (a beat to beat reading of how well his heart was pushing). Mark’s invasive blood pressure reading was low, so an adrenaline infusion was commenced.

An ECG demonstrated a large anterior ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (heart attack) therefore a plan was made to transport Mark to the local cardiac centre at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, so that he could receive prompt primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) in order to unblock the culprit coronary artery.

The Fire Service drove their pickup vehicle down the gravel path to Mark’s side. He was carefully lifted onto the back of the truck accompanied by our team and driven slowly down the bumpy track, to the road where the ambulance was located. During this time, he suffered a further three cardiac arrests and was successfully defibrillated each time. In order to reduce the risk of further cardiac arrest, he was given sodium bicarbonate and magnesium sulphate intravenously, in an attempt to lower the electrical excitability in his heart.

We accompanied Mark by road to Royal Bournemouth Hospital and subsequently to the Catheter Lab for his PPCI procedure. Within the Cardiac Centre, he had treatment to open up his coronary arteries. Despite this, his heart was still struggling and a team from St. Thomas’s Hospital in London came and placed him on a heart and lung bypass machine called ECMO. Mark was then transferred to London for ongoing ECMO support. It was so lovely to be able to meet up again and we are absolutely delighted that Mark has made such a good recovery.

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