“WE COULD all be life-savers.”
That’s the message from a cardiac arrest victim who was yesterday (Wednesday) reunited with those who came to his rescue.
Mike Jones, 63, of Bedlington, says he is “eternally grateful” to everyone who played a part in keeping him alive.
PCSO Mark Rodgers from Durham Constabulary, member of the public Robbie Beckwith, and a paramedic from North East Ambulance Service have all met for the first time since the dramatic events on the evening of June 19.
Mike was playing in a local table tennis league match at Ouston Community Centre, Chester-le-Street, and had just completed a game when he collapsed onto the floor from his chair.
PCSO Rodgers, who was off-duty and himself playing at the time, dashed to help.
“I checked to see if Mike was breathing and when I realised he wasn’t I started CPR,” he said. “It was a really hot evening and it was incredibly hard work.”
That’s when Robbie, who had also been playing table tennis, stepped in to help – first counting the number of compressions before taking over CPR for a short while.
He said: “I did a first aid course 20 years ago, so could remember the basics. I thought ‘I have to concentrate, help Mark and make sure Mike survives’. I just wanted to make a difference.”
The 57-year-old from Pelton, added: “Mark did exceptionally well. Mike wouldn’t be with us without him doing what he did.”
PCSO Rodgers, who is based at Consett, said instincts took over and he put his training into action.
“Thankfully, we did enough until the paramedics arrived and could take over,” he added. “I’m just pleased we were there and played our part in ensuring Mike survived.”
Two paramedics, Kenton Levitt and Kevin Smith, and an emergency care assistant, Louise Green, from North East Ambulance Service shocked Mike with a defibrillator and administered life-saving treatment before transporting him to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
First on scene was paramedic Kenton from North Shields, who has been with the service for eight years having left the pub trade for a complete change in career when he reached his 40th year.
Now able to make the difference to people’s lives every day for a living that he had always wanted, Kenton was delighted to see CPR was ongoing when he reached Mike. Kenton shocked Mike and took over life-saving treatment with the support of the following crew who assisted and together, transported him to hospital.
Having worked for the ambulance service for 12 years himself, paramedic Kevin was keen to meet Mike and congratulate Mark and Robbie for their efforts.
A strong supporter of community CPR, defibs and responders, he explains: “Saving lives is a team effort. When we arrived the two were delivering good ongoing chest compressions to Mike that ensured that his heart kept in rhythm so that when we gave him a defibrillator shock, we were able to successfully resuscitate him and transport him for further assessment and treatment.
“It’s not always easy for people to initiate CPR but the chances of survival and the quality of life thereafter are enormously better if CPR is begun as soon as possible and literally every second counts.
“It’s important to highlight cases exactly like Mike’s because it gives people the confidence and the motivation to refresh their skills and to put them into practice if they ever need to. There is nothing more disheartening to an ambulance crew than arriving on scene to a patient like Mike where CPR is not in progress when it could have been – we all joined this service to make a difference to people’s lives and thanks to Mark and Robbie, together we’ve given Mike the chance to enjoy his.”
Mike is now on the way to making a full recovery.
He said: “I am eternally grateful for what Mark and Robbie initially did and then to the team from the ambulance service. Without their intervention I would have died.”
Mike is keen to learn CPR and is encouraging others to make sure they also know the basics.
He said: “I think everyone should know how to deliver CPR. It really could be the difference between life and death. In fact, I believe it should be taught in schools.”
Mike has offered to support the NEAS Restart a Heart campaign to teach CPR to secondary school pupils in October.