One fine day in November two of our TEC team in West Sussex had arrived early at the office and were setting themselves up for the busy morning ahead.
Samuel Phillips, Care Technology Consultant and Laurence Habgood-Coote, Occupational Therapist based at our West Sussex TECS service centre in Worthing were both in the office when they realised that their colleague Jerry Cuffley was slumped in his car outside the office.
Sam, who has previously worked as an Emergency Care Ambulance Practitioner and army medic, along with Laurence rushed to his assistance. The pair found Jerry in low-level of responsiveness, on all fours, outside his car sweating profusely and dark grey in the face. Working in a clinical setting the pair were lucky to have access to a heart rate monitor and a blood pressure cuff. Utilising both whilst another colleague was calling the ambulance, they discovered Jerry had a very low blood pressure and pulse rate. Using his previous medical knowledge, Sam immediately sprung into action, advising what to say to the emergency call handler, putting Jerrys legs as high as possible to get his circulation going and suspecting a heart attack – administered an aspirin donated by another colleague.
These actions had the desired effect and Jerry started to talk whilst waiting for the ambulance. Without these interventions Jerry, who was in a state known as peri-arrest, would have gone into a full cardiac arrest When the crews arrived Sam and Laurence worked with them to set up an ECG and stabilise Jerry before he was taken to hospital in Brighton, where he was immediately taken into surgery to allow a stent to be fitted.
“Once the ambulance arrived, I was put on their machines, and they confirmed I was having a heart attack. Bizarrely I felt relieved as I then knew what was happening and also knew I was in good hands. Although at the same time – worried! Also, my experience wasn’t what I had expected as I always had been led to believe that a heart attack would be a crushing pain in the chest! My experience was nothing of the sort!”
Two days later Jerry was allowed home and is following a programme of rehabilitation with some major life changes. Our TECS Service team leader was back at work on a phased return after 8 weeks and despite experiencing fatigue on some days, says on other days he feels the best he has in years.
The incident has highlighted how crucial immediate attention can be, without the intervention of Laurence and Sam, the result for Jerry could have been very different. We are integral to the communities in which we operate and providing additional support for our colleagues and the wider population is highly important to us. With this in mind we have taken the decision to fit a defibrillator in each of our new or upgraded service centres, with a retro fit taking place in West Sussex.
These defibrillators are to be fitted externally providing access to those living and working close to our service centres and their locations will be available on The Circuit, the national defibrillator network.
What is The Circuit?
The moment someone has a cardiac arrest, the clock starts ticking. Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival. But many defibrillators are never used because emergency services don’t know where they are or how to access them.
This is where The Circuit comes in.
The Circuit – the national defibrillator network, connects defibrillators to NHS ambulance services across the UK so that in those crucial moments after a cardiac arrest, they can be accessed quickly to help save lives.
You can see more about The Circuit here.
Sam who was instrumental in the positive outcome for Jerry, said of the decision by NRS to fit the potentially lifesaving devices
“It’s fantastic that NRS have recognised how important it is that people in the community and our colleagues have access to these machines and I am proud to work for a company taking such positive action to provide these”.
What to do if you think someone is having a heart attack
You can find further information about what action to take if you think someone may be having a heart attack here.
As a direct result of this incident, new internal training has been developed and is available to all colleagues to help them understand what to do if a similar incident happens in their workplace.