23 May 2019 - Ambulance Team Thanked for Lifesaving Actions

Stephen BurbageA man who mistook a heart attack for indigestion praises North West Ambulance Service for saving his life after a cardiac arrest.

Stephen Burbage, 57, from Wigan, was walking by the canal in March this year when he started to experience sudden chest pain. After making it home and putting the pain down to indigestion, two hours later Stephen’s wife finally persuaded him to call NHS 111 for advice.

NHS 111, which is run by North West Ambulance Service, asked a number of questions about Stephen’s condition. Based on these answers, an emergency ambulance was dispatched immediately.

Clinicians, John Grimshaw and Jessica Crowe, arrived to treat Stephen and after undertaking tests and observations, the team knew Stephen was seriously ill and needed to get to hospital as soon as possible.

Once in the ambulance, Stephen took a turn for the worst and suddenly went into cardiac arrest. This means that his heart suddenly stopped pumping blood around the body causing him to fall unconscious and stop breathing.

The crew sprang into action immediately starting chest compressions and after a shock from the defibrillator; Stephen’s heart began beating normally again.

It was later discovered that a heart attack had caused the cardiac arrest and Stephen underwent a stent procedure. He was discharged from hospital after just four days.

Speaking of his experience, Stephen said: “I always expected a heart attack to feel like extreme crushing pains but it was more of an uncomfortable pain and I put it down to indigestion.

“I cannot thank these people enough for what they have done for me and count my lucky stars that they were here, as without them it would have been a completely different outcome.

“The NHS 111 call handler was a real unsung hero, she kept me really calm and made me feel reassured whilst quickly arranging the help I needed.”

Stephen was reunited with the ambulance crew that helped save his life at Wigan Ambulance Station on Wednesday 15 May where he thanked them for what they had done.

Paramedic, John Grimshaw, said: “It was fantastic to meet with Stephen and great to see him looking so well. We rarely get to have the opportunity to meet up with patients afterwards so this was pretty special.

“Early CPR and defibrillation is so important in the event of a cardiac arrest. Stephen was very lucky that we were there but it could happen anywhere and at any time which is why it’s so important that people in the community know what to do and are willing to step in and help whilst they wait for an ambulance to arrive.

“Our Emergency Medical Dispatchers will explain how to help when someone calls 999, but it’s really important to get clued up on life-saving skills so that you’re confident enough to use them if the worst does ever happen.”

Chest pain should never be ignored.

999 should be called immediately for sudden chest pain that:

  • spreads to the arms, back, neck or jaw
  • makes the chest feel tight or heavy
  • also started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick
  • lasts more than 15 minutes

This can be a sign of a heart attack and requires immediate hospital treatment.

Stephen continues: “I would say to anyone experiencing sudden chest pain, not to ignore it and to get checked out immediately, I was very lucky but could have very easily had a completely different outcome.”

Chest pain that comes and goes can have a number of different causes including heartburn, indigestion or a chest infection. Further information can be found here, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chest-pain/.

NHS 111 Online is now available and allows patients to get urgent healthcare online.