Air Ambulance doctor delivers critical care to Nottinghamshire heart attack victim
Two air ambulances flew to the assistance of heart attack victim Mark Metcalfe when he collapsed at home in Bilsthorpe, Newark.
Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) was deployed to join colleagues from the Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance (LNAA) and East Midlands Ambulance Service – who were first at the scene – to provide a critical care doctor to give Mark (54) the very best chance of survival.
On the morning of the incident, the LNAA helicopter crew didn’t include a doctor – which is not uncommon across air ambulances.
It took the DLRAA helicopter just 14 minutes to fly from their base at East Midlands Airport to landing near the bungalow where Mark was being treated by the other air ambulance crew and a team from East Midlands Ambulance Service.
Mark’s partner Carol Moore had called the emergency services when she discovered Mark lying unconscious on the bathroom floor. She says:
“There was a loud bang that sounded like an explosion. The dog rushed to the bathroom door and just stood there. I shouted to Mark but there was no reply. He had collapsed behind the door, but I managed to barge my way in. Mark’s breathing was noisy like a “death rattle” and he was in the foetal position. There was blood everywhere from where he had bashed his nose and cheek on a metal towel rail as he fell to the floor. It was a mess.”
“I dialled 999 and went into robot mode. I have been trained and knew how to do CPR. I dragged Mark onto his back and did chest compressions frantically for about ten minutes, which felt like a lifetime. I was hysterical but I kept going and eventually I could hear sirens in the distance.”
“I was very relieved when the emergency services arrived, and I got out of their way. I could hear them shocking Mark. It was unbelievable, a living nightmare. I didn’t know if I was going to see him alive again.”
The land ambulance paramedics and LNAA crew worked together for over an hour until Mark’s pulse rate returned.
The clinicians already at scene knew Marks best chance of recovery was to be anaesthetised before being transferred to the nearest specialist cardiology hospital.
The DLRAA critical care team put Mark into an induced coma and discussed his condition with the cardiac team at Nottingham City Hospital before continuing advanced critical care during his emergency transfer to hospital in a land ambulance.
Mark’s condition was too unstable for him to go by helicopter and the specialist cardiac centre doesn’t have an appropriate nearby landing site.
On arrival at the hospital the DLRAA crew handed over Mark to the surgical team who later discovered that Mark’s heart attack had been caused by a blood clot that had blocked his main artery.
He had a stent fitted and had to spend three weeks in hospital – one week in an induced coma – due to complications during his recovery, including several broken ribs, a chest infection and ingested pneumonia.
Amazingly, four months after the incident – in December 2020 – Mark started a phased return to his job as a construction site manager. Since finding out what happened to him, Mark proposed to Carol, and they plan to get married in the future.
Mark has no memory of the events, but Carol has been traumatised by the incident and is receiving counselling.
“I want to share the story because it is for a very good cause and I think people should know about the work done by the emergency services, especially as this was during lockdown and they were all having to wear PPE. All I could see were hazmat suits and people’s eyes.”
“It is amazing that the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance brought a doctor to the scene. All the teams worked together and kept me informed and updated. Every one of them – air or land ambulance personnel – were polite, informative, and professional. They had empathy and understanding and wanted to care for me as much as the patient.
Mark and I can’t thank them all enough – including the call taker when I rang 999.”
Carol has always supported the local air ambulance by donating clothes.
“It is an amazing charity and I needed them that day for my fella. We all need them. They provide a much-needed service. I think they should be funded by the government because what they do saves lives,” she says.
Mark adds: “Although I was not transported to hospital by the local air ambulance, I needed the specialist training and equipment that only they have. It is very costly to get this level of expertise to the scene of accidents and medical emergencies like mine and it is not paid for by the government or the NHS. The air ambulance is solely run from public donations – that’s me and you! Please help to keep this service in the air.
Carol and I have since joined the local air ambulance lottery which is a very small monthly donation, and you have a chance of winning a prize. Check it out.
I cannot thank everyone who helped me that day enough. They gave me this amazing opportunity of a second chance at life! A massive thank you to them all from the bottom of Carol and my hearts.”
Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance and Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance are operated by The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS).
Over 95 per cent of missions attended by TAAS include a critical care doctor as part of critical care crew which gives patients the best chance of survival and best possible outcome from their accident or medical emergency.
Richard Clayton, TAAS Director of Operations describes Marks’s return to full health as “fantastic news.”
He says: “I am immensely proud of the TAAS critical care team. This incident exemplifies the importance of the chain of survival: from the 999 call taker providing CPR advice over the phone, the immediate care provided by the first responders, the advanced care provided by The Air Ambulance Service critical care team and the surgical care provided by the cardiac centre. I am absolutely delighted that Mark has gone on to make a full recovery.”