Paul Rockett was airlifted to hospital following a cardiac arrest and time was of the essence.

On 16th June last year, Paul Rockett started experiencing chest tightness and pains, which he thought was indigestion or wind. After trying self-care remedies the pain continued and he began feeling clammy. Paul knew he wasn’t well and called his wife Sue. She shares with us what happened that day…

The incident

“Paul has an industrial unit, which he uses as a man cave and where he completes personal woodworking projects. On that day, he phoned me to say he was feeling ill and asked if I would come and get him. He didn’t tell me what was wrong, just that he felt really rough. It was a very hot day and I thought perhaps he was dehydrated or had a bit of heat stroke, so I started to drive to the unit from the opposite side of town.

“On my way, Paul called again and said that he was now feeling really ill and wanted me to call an ambulance. I dialled 999, relayed the information to the call handler, who said she would classify the request as an emergency for an ambulance.

“I arrived at the unit 10 minutes later to find Paul on the floor. He knew he was ill, so had laid down in the recovery position. He explained his symptoms of chest tightness and pain, that he was having difficulties breathing and feeling very hot – his t-shirt was extremely wet. I was kneeling on the floor, talking and reassuring him that an ambulance was on its way, when he grunted with pain, his body spasmed and he stopped breathing.

Starting CPR and the chain of survival

“I redialled 999, put my phone between my shoulder and face so that I could talk, turned him over and thumped him in the centre of his chest, starting CPR. The call handler asked if the patient was breathing and I said ‘no, not any more’. I explained that an ambulance had already been called, but that Paul’s condition had deteriorated. They told me to continue CPR but it was so hard. I kept on asking how far away the ambulance was as I was struggling to keep it going.

“Eventually, I heard an ambulance approaching. I felt relief coupled with fear as I was worried they wouldn’t be able to find me, but they did! The ambulance crew took over CPR and I went outside, virtually collapsing with exhaustion. I phoned our daughter and told her that Paul had suffered a heart attack and to make her way to the unit. I stayed out of the way and remained outside, sitting on the floor as the crews were busy with what they were doing. One of them checked on me to make sure I was OK.

The arrival of the air ambulance

“About 10 minutes later my son-in-law arrived and I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see him. Around that time, I heard a lowflying helicopter above and shortly after two people walking towards me in red suits carrying equipment. Only at that point did I register who they were.

Paul after incident

“The air ambulance team went into the unit to assist with the treatment of Paul. After a while, the critical care doctor came out and spoke to me. He explained that Paul was really poorly, that he had suffered multiple cardiac arrests and there was a possibility he would not survive.

“Paul was airlifted to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and immediately had a stent fitted. He was in the High Dependency Unit for three days before being moved to the Coronary Care Ward; remarkably he was discharged after a week.

“By sharing our story, we hope to highlight how lucky we are to have such a wonderful service because, without the expertise of the air ambulance critical care team, Paul would probably not be here.”

The DSAA team that attended Paul’s incident were: Ian Mew, Amy McGufficke, Scott Armstrong and Jack Cook. Also in attendance from the ambulance service were: Rebecca Ham, Sophia Goodman, Damien Fairchild, Michael Thorman and Louise Huggett.

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NEXT: Patrick's Story