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Former air ambulance patient highlights importance of CPR this Restart a Heart Day

Former air ambulance patient highlights importance of CPR this Restart a Heart Day

Former air ambulance patient, Nick Forsyth, is raising the awareness of the importance of early CPR and defibrillation this Restart a Heart Day (16 October 2023) after suffering a heart attack which led to a cardiac arrest.

Nick (32) from Belper, Derbyshire, has always been sporty; playing hockey for the local town team and enjoying games of five-a-side football with his work colleagues.

At 28 years old, he was healthy and physically fit until he developed chest pains and collapsed at the side of the pitch during a weekly five-a-side match on 17 January 2019.

“One of the people I work with is a trained first aider and I’m told that they started doing CPR on me. There was also a defibrillator at the leisure centre which was used on me,” says Nick.

Both a land ambulance and the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) attended DW Sports in Derby in response to a 999 call.

Nick had suffered a heart attack which led to a cardiac arrest. He subsequently found out that, unbeknown to him, he had an obstruction in his left anterior artery causing a clot to form which stopped the blood flow to his heart.

The air ambulance clinicians had to stabilise Nick as his heart had been re-started. He was still critically unwell, and they needed to support his vital systems and get him to a hospital with a specialist cardiology department to fix the obstruction in the blood flow around his heart.

He was anaesthetised and put onto a ventilator, enabling the doctor to optimise his blood pressure and oxygenation and help with the stress on his heart and brain function.

The air ambulance doctor accompanied Nick on the land ambulance to Royal Derby Hospital where he was fitted with a stent. After just over a week, he was well enough to go home.

Since then, Nick’s interests and hobbies still mainly revolve around sport, playing hockey and cycling (taken up since his heart attack), and he enjoys watching a lot of sport including football, rugby, and cricket.

Nick is now back to full health and enjoying his new family life. He got married in July 2021, and in October 2022 he and his wife welcomed their first child, Harry. They are both loving life as parents.

“I’ll always be incredibly grateful for the help that I received from the air ambulance and feel incredibly impressed that all the stops were pulled out to help me. It’s given me an appreciation of the additional medical services the air ambulance provides above the normal ambulance service, I had always assumed that it was just a way of getting patients to the hospital faster, rather than also providing additional care,” says Nick.

“I also hope my story inspires anybody who doesn’t know how to do CPR to find out. I am living proof that lives can be saved by CPR and defibrillators – and everybody should know how to use both,” he adds.

DLRAA Doctor and Clinical Lead, Matthew Wyse explains:

“The best chance of survival for a cardiac arrest recognises there is a chain of survival that involves dialling 999 for help, good CPR, using a defibrillator to shock the heart and excellent critical care to support the patient until they recover.

“The team from DLRAA have a role to play at every step in the chain of survival but especially in providing exceptional critical care at the scene of an incident – just like we did for Nick.”

It is estimated that more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen every year in the UK, and less than one in 10 people survive. Early CPR and defibrillation can more than double the chances of survival in some cases.

Restart a Heart Day – led by the Resuscitation Council UK – is highlighting the importance of everyone learning CPR and actively promoting the use of public access defibrillators,  to greatly increase the chances of survival following a cardiac arrest.