09 May 2016 – ‘I Wouldn’t Have Survived Without You’ – Patient Tells Ambulance Crew

A board member of Glossop North End Association Football Club has said he has seen ‘the NHS at its best’ after a North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) crew helped save his life when he suffered a cardiac arrest.


Picture: Paramedic Andy Birch, Jim Joyce, with the defibrillator which saved his life, emergency medical technician Joanne Gifford and club Chair Dave Atkinson.  

On 02 September last year Jim Joyce, now 66, collapsed during a board meeting at the club. Those attending the meeting phoned 999 and rushed to get the defibrillator, which the club had recently purchased.    Jim immediately received CPR, via instructions from the 999 call taker, and the club’s Chair, Dave Atkinson, used the defibrillator.  Dave followed the audio instructions which resulted in restoring Jim’s normal heart rhythm.  Shortly after, the ambulance crew arrived to continue treatment before taking Jim to Tameside General Hospital.

Now fully recovered, Jim joined the ambulance crew consisting of Andy Birch, one of the Trust’s paramedics, and emergency medical technician Joanne Gifford, for an emotional reunion at the football club.

Jim Joyce, a retired head teacher who usually takes the minutes at the club’s board meetings, said: “The next item on the agenda that night was the club’s emergency medical plan and how to use a defibrillator – they didn’t realise it would be a practical!

“Being so close to a defibrillator played a huge part in me surviving. This incident demonstrates the vital role everyone plays in saving a life. A big thank you to Dave for using the defibrillator, the call taker for calming everyone down, the crew for arriving so quickly and the hospital for getting me through it – I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

NWAS paramedic Andy Birch, who treated Jim that evening, said: “Dave and the other board members had all done a fantastic job before we arrived by using the defibrillator. We were then able to treat Jim and help his breathing.  It’s great to see Jim so well; it’s rare we get the opportunity to meet a patient after an incident, so thanks to him for getting in touch.  

Meeting 2

Andy continues: “Rural communities will always be a challenge for the Service. As well as our frontline crews we also use our network of Community First Responders (CFRs) – who are sent to incidents simultaneously with an ambulance. CFRs are trained volunteers that are called upon by ambulance control to attend life-threatening emergency calls in their local communities.

“There is currently a shortage of volunteers signed up as CFRs across Greater Manchester and the wider rural areas. The more people we have signed up, the greater the chances are patients will receive life-saving treatment should they need it. We would urge as many people to sign up locally and be part of our team of life-savers. If anyone in the community would like more information please visit our dedicated CFR website at http://www.nwas-responders.info/ and get in touch with our team.”

For every minute defibrillation is delayed, chances of survival decrease by 10%. Defibrillators can ‘shock’ a person’s heart into restarting and if this can be done in the vital first few minutes, patients have a 60-70 per cent chance of making a full recovery.