Banbridge man James Hudson says ‘there’s still a lot more living to do,’ after recovering from a heart attack in July, which ambulance personnel described as an ‘amazing outcome’ against every odd.
James, 57, from Bramblewood Drive, was shocked six times and received several rounds of drugs in a bid to save his life on July 25th.
And it was thanks to the actions of not only the ambulance crew, but the ambulance dispatcher Dee Baker, who talked James’ wife Jane through the CPR procedure and neighbours who came to Jane’s aid, that saved James’ life.
The local architect had just returned from the hardware store to do some gardening when he suddenly took ill.
With no history of heart problems in his family, James thought he had a tummy upset and went to bed that Saturday afternoon.
However, Jane, who was preparing to go out, heard a noise from the bedroom and when she went to check on her husband, she was shocked by what she saw.
“His breaths became rapid, his eyes started rolling in his head, he went all sorts of colours on me, and just about three or four gasps and that was it, he went unconscious.
“I was able to find the 999 button and straight away put through to Dee in Ambulance Control. I was asked about his breathing, which was faint, but I certainly wasn’t trained to pick up any breathing at all and Dee advised me to get James straight onto the floor.
“I couldn’t do that, Dee advised about using the sheet, I still couldn’t manage it, so of course then Dee directed me to get help.
“Thankfully my neighbour Grainne Sloan was in her home next door, and she was a former nurse, so she came.
“We got James onto the floor, Grainne started CPR, then she wisely advised me to get help from another neighbour, unknown to me John Gilmore, who works for Banbridge Council, also had CPR training, although he’d never had any reason to put it into practice, but they both worked with James until the ambulance crew arrived.
“I headed out to meet the ambulance crew and I heard the siren on the Castlewellan Road and it was hugely reassuring for me.
“They took over and time seemed to go on and on forever. They seemed to be working forever, I think it was about 15 to 20 minutes, and then Mark arrived on the scene and he stepped things up a gear.
“Things were grim but they worked on and on and after 40 to 45 minutes, James was then wheeled out on the trolley and put into the ambulance.”
James wasn’t well enough to go straight to the Royal, so he was brought first to Craigavon, before he was finally able to be moved to Belfast for surgery.
“With all the good work in his home and being able to get him to the CPU in the Royal, we’re here today,” Jane said.
“We’ve had a great outcome. We’re very thankful for all the work of the team.”
Mark Anderson, the Clinical Support Officer in Craigavon added: “I was on the Rapid Response Vehicle that day and we were tasked to assist the crew, David Gribbons and Raymond Lappin.
“A lot of difficulties were presenting with the call, so we were able to assist the crew and find out what the underlying cause was and as a result of that, after a brief period of stabilisation, we were able to get James to the Royal, which is where he needed that definitive care and that quite literally made a big difference.
“We’re absolutely delighted with the outcome and to be able to spend that time with James today.”
Mark added: “You’ve every challenge against you in that situation in that your heart’s just not pumping at all and there’s the potential there for so many other complications, even if we managed to get the heart restarted. The crew did an amazing job in making sure that the heart continued to pump and get blood around the body so there was no other damage is vital and is testimony to their professionalism and how hard they worked at the scene.
“Together with all of the instructions from the likes of Dee, that that process was started immediately so that when the crew arrived they had a fighting chance in that respect.
“Each link in the chain is very important there,” Mark said. “You’ve every odd against you and to see such an amazing outcome is fantastic.”
Speaking of his heart attack, James said: “I wasn’t feeling so well. I don’t remember any of it from that point onwards. I’ve no recollection till waking up in a hospital bed the following day in Craigavon.
“It’s all part of a jigsaw, in that people along the way were able to make me survive to be able to be here today. My wife, and then Dee, our neighbours, Grainne and John as well, the professionalism of the two guys, keeping me going, and then Mark coming in, and certainly the staff (in hospital) who were very helpful and again, all that I needed was there to make sure that I was on the road to recovery.
“Really the motivation is now just to get better and build up the heart muscle, make sure that in future things will be as they should be.
“There’s still a lot more living to do,” he added.
Dee Baker, Emergency Medical Dispatcher said: “It’s very nice to see a positive outcome, my role on the other end of a phone, we don’t have any contact with the patient after they’ve put that phone down, so it is very nice to see the patient here looking very well today and a positive outcome.
“It’s very nice, it makes you feel as if you’ve done something worthwhile.”