Sep
03
How Not To Die From A Cardiac Arrest


I went to my knees.
And then it goes black. Ambulance Service… In my head I was going,
“Please, just take a breath.” And nothing. He had his whole life ahead of him. And yet, in that one moment,
it could all be taken away. Please don’t panic,
but your son’s had a cardiac arrest. You should never, ever, ever have to
receive that type of call. I was 17 at the time, working as
a waiter whilst doing my A-levels. My mind-set was to get
the qualifications needed in order to go off to uni. I was really dedicated to the gym
at that point as well. That’s, I guess,
the peak of how I’ve ever been. Beautiful weather outside. Hot
in the kitchen. It was a good day. With Ben, he was always helpful,
he was always polite, he always had a smile on his face. But, if I’m to be honest,
I didn’t know him quite in depth. I went to go get some glasses. It started pinging that
something was going wrong and so, that’s when I started
slouching up on the wall. Then I started
dropping to the ground. After struggling for a bit… Ben was on the floor.
There was no colour on him at all. And he was just…
He wasn’t moving, wasn’t talking. I thought he was dead. Every second counts when it comes
to surviving a cardiac arrest. Check for signs of life.
If you can’t find any, call 999. The minutes before an ambulance
arrives are critical so, their life is in your hands. Ambulance Service… I’d seen him 20 minutes before,
you know, up on his feet, talking, laughing. A cardiac arrest means the
electrical signals in the heart are not working properly. Ben’s brain is being starved of
oxygen. Unless he gets the right help
immediately, he’ll suffer brain damage or die. I thought we were too late, I thought there was
nothing we could do. Has he still not taken
another breath? No. I’d never seen CPR. It brought, you know, a reality of
kind of how forceful you have to be. CPR probably won’t restart
Ben’s heart. But it will keep blood flowing
to his vital organs until someone gets a defibrillator. One, two, three, four… Push hard
and don’t worry about hurting them. Breaking someone’s ribs is better
than letting them die. After 30 compressions, breathe into their mouth twice to
fill their lungs and repeat. In my head I was going, “Come
on, Ben, please breathe, please, “just take a breath.” And nothing.
And I thought of my family. And I also thought of
Ben’s family as well, because, at this point,
they didn’t know what was going on. Please don’t panic,
but your son’s had a cardiac arrest. You should never, ever, ever have
to receive that type of call. This wasn’t a seizure. This wasn’t
a fit. This wasn’t, “He’s fainted.” This was very, very serious. I didn’t really want to drive
because I thought, you know, am I capable? So, I knocked on my neighbour’s
door, burst into tears. And she took me down. Only an electric shock from
the defibrillator will restart the heart. Get someone to find one, fast. Check shops, schools, offices,
hotels, pubs, train stations and restaurants. Yeah, we’ve got it now,
we’ve got it in front of us. I was very, very nervous. Kind of asked around if anybody,
was anybody defibrillator trained. Nobody was. I’m thinking,
well, I’ve got to get it on. Have you turned the machine on?
Yes. Stay calm. The defibrillator shocks the heart
and restarts its regular rhythm. It gives someone the very best
chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Has it just shocked him?
Yes, we have, yeah. Don’t be afraid. It will tell you what to do
and you can’t do any harm. If you can set up your new phone
then you can use a defibrillator. That was quite a scary thing to see. The body actually
come off the floor. I thought, after the first shock,
that would be it. But it wasn’t. There was a thought of, are they
going to turn up and we’re going to have to say, we’ve done
the best we can but we’re sorry. Has it just shocked him again? GROANING He was actually starting
to move his arms. He was making quite haunting noises. To look up and see the paramedics
come through the door, I thought, yeah,
we’ve given him the best chance and these guys are going to
take over. I ran in. There was several
people working on him. His veins were all contort,
his body was all contort, he was really, really, like,
battered. He didn’t let me go in, he sort
of like literally grabbed me and said, you’re not going
through the doors. You start to think, how long before
we get the Ben we know back? Is he ever going to come back? I was alive again.
I’m privileged to be back. It was more surreal to me
than anybody else. They didn’t live through it.
I don’t remember it. I can still live a normal life. Ben’s cardiac arrest was because of
a genetic problem with his heart but it can happen to anyone,
any time. He’s been fitted with an ICD. It’s a mini version of the
defibrillator that saved his life and would automatically
shock him if it happened again. From going not knowing him
to him being one of the people that saved my life,
there’s not much more you can say other than thank you. To see him back on his feet,
to be able to hug him, is just unbelievable. If it wasn’t for his colleagues
and their life-saving actions in the first place,
he wouldn’t be here. That’s the simple fact behind it. If you come across someone
in a situation like that, do whatever you can. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never
done it before, if you’re nervous. You’ve got to, because you’re giving
that person a chance. I wouldn’t be here,
speaking to you right now, if there wasn’t a defib near me
at the time. I understand how lucky I am. I’m here, I survived.