‘My heart stopped for 53 minutes’ – how NARS paramedic kept me alive
- Credit: Archant
As part of the #NARSNeedsYou campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary of Norfolk Accident Rescue Service, Geoff Roberts shares how NARS critical care paramedic Ryan Warwick saved his life after a serious heart attack.
On July 20 2019, Geoff Roberts went to bed after enjoying an evening in at his home in Northwold with his wife Dawn and some friends. At approximately 3.45am Dawn woke to find that Geoff was not breathing.
“I’m very lucky my wife is a light sleeper,” Geoff says. “She heard me take one deep breath and then I stopped – she couldn’t wake me.”
A month earlier, builder Geoff, 55, had felt dizzy climbing a ladder at work. After an echocardiogram, doctors noticed he had an irregular heartbeat and fitted a pacemaker. He had been feeling fine until he suffered what has since been diagnosed as a serious cardiac arrest.
Dawn’s actions were vital in maintaining the chain of survival: “Dawn called 999 and they instructed her to give me CPR until help arrived. Because she started CPR straight away, it kept oxygen going to my brain.”
At this moment NARS critical care paramedic Ryan Warwick happened to be driving past Northwold on his way back from King’s Lynn to retrieve a lost radio that the NARS crew had left at a previous job. Ryan took the call and arrived at Geoff’s home within minutes.
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“If it had been a normal ambulance, they would have had to take me to hospital, but instead Ryan had the equipment in the back of his car.”
NARS carries advanced equipment that traditional ambulance services do not provide, including the LUCAS chest compression system – a mechanical device that administers CPR automatically. Ryan set the machine going on Geoff so that his hands were free to attend to other matters of advanced life support, such as drugs including magnesium to bring Geoff’s heart into rhythm.
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Ryan also administered 26 shocks with a defibrillator in an attempt to restart Geoff’s heartbeat, which stopped for 53 minutes in total. “He fought nail and tooth to bring me back,” Geoff says. “If he hadn’t gone back for that radio it might have been a different story.”
But in an incredible twist of fate, it turned out that the lost radio was under the seat in Ryan’s car all along.
Geoff was taken to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where he was in an induced coma for two days. After having a new pacemaker with defibrillation fitted, he remained in hospital for one month, but with the support of his family and friends he made a full recovery.
“I would just like to thank everyone at NARS,” Geoff says. “They dedicate their spare time to saving people. They even use their own cars!
“Unless something happens to you, you don’t realise how important they are. I’m only here because of these people. I cannot speak about them highly enough.”
Nowadays, Geoff says he feels great, although he’s had to pause his love of restoring classic cars as welding interferes with his pacemaker. And he was pleased to see Ryan recently when the paramedic was invited to a family barbeque celebrating one year since the incident – Geoff’s ‘new birthday’.
“It validates everything we do when you see someone – who was technically dead when I got to him – is now back to normality,” says NARS paramedic Ryan. “He’s got years with his family that he wouldn’t have had without NARS.”
“What do you say to the man that saved your life?” Geoff wonders. “I just hugged him.”
NARS only exists thanks to the generous donations of the people of Norfolk. Please consider making a donation so that stories like Geoff’s have a happy ending.
For more information or to make a donation please visit nars.org.uk