Graham's Story

"At 65 years old I thought I had lots of time left to enjoy life. On this particular day, I could have lost this privilege if it were not for all those who ensured that I received the care I needed.

My story starts on a normal day like many others and in the morning I had gone to the gym. Whilst on the cross trainer at the height of my regular workout, I suffered a cardiac arrest. I can’t remember the events that took place that day or for five days after. Thanks to the amazing interventions of all involved on that day, I have been able to piece together what happened to tell you the story now.

The staff at the gym noticed on CCTV that I had collapsed. They called 999, commenced CPR and used a defibrillator to shock my heart back into a normal rhythm whilst an ambulance and a fast response car were dispatched. As a result of a lack of oxygen to my brain I was having fits which was a sign of potential brain injury. A Critical Care Paramedic arrived and administered powerful sedatives but could only administer enough to stop the fits for a short amount of time. It was clear at this point that further specialist help was needed from the air ambulance and its medical crew.

When their Doctor and Paramedic arrived at the scene, I was still showing signs of cardiac instability and ongoing lack of oxygen to my brain. If this hadn’t been corrected urgently I was at risk of going back into cardiac arrest, developing permanent brain damage or even death. They gave me a general anaesthetic which was the only way to stop the fits and to correct my oxygen levels by taking over my breathing. This absolutely essential treatment effectively reduced the workload on my heart and stabilised my condition.

I was airlifted to the William Harvey Hospital which specialises in cardiology. Being flown to this hospital in 10 minutes, against a 45 minute road journey, meant that the cardiology team were able to assess my heart problem promptly. After 18 days in hospital, 8 of which were spent in intensive care in an induced coma, I was fitted with an ICD before returning home.
Thanks to the level of expertise delivered at the scene of my cardiac arrest, I have made an amazing recovery.

To me, it is a miracle. Every link in the chain that needed to happen, to ensure I could be here today, did happen. The air ambulance crew were a vital link in that chain and I am so grateful to them for their fast response and treatment, and for getting me to the hospital that could best care for me. Sometimes I reflect on what could have been but I am here – here with my wife and my family and able to spend time with my grandson, Oliver. I’m not back at the gym yet (my wife won’t allow it!) However, Oliver certainly keeps me on my toes and every day I am grateful for the joy life brings.
But of course, you were also a vital link in the chain – without your support, the air ambulance would not have been able to help me that day and give me the treatment that was so essential to my survival and recovery.

Your support helped to save my life and keep us all together. I thank you and would like to wish you, your family and your loved ones a safe and Merry Christmas."

David Johnstone

“When the air ambulance arrived I thought it must be quite serious but I wasn’t aware of the level of expertise and equipment on board.”

David Johnston was helping a...

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