A mum has thanked South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) for saving her life after she had a severe asthma attack which led to a cardiac arrest.
Marie Flint-Fewkes, 28, had major breathing difficulties at her home in Paignton on 16 December. Her condition was so serious that her heart stopped beating.
Family members dialled 999 and began to do vital chest compressions before SWASFT paramedics arrived.
At a special event in Torquay on Monday, Marie will meet the crews who saved her.
She said: “Without the help of the ambulance service my husband would be without a wife, my son without a mum, and my mother without a daughter. I’m so grateful to the paramedics for coming to my house, supporting my family, and saving my life.”
Husband Sean called 999, because Marie was struggling to breathe. Minutes later her skin turned blue, she lost consciousness, and stopped breathing.
SWASFT Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Alex Hawkes, told relatives how to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in an effort to keep her alive.
Paramedics Sam Jarman and Hannah Guest, as well as Emergency Care Assistants Simon Slade and Gemma Southcott arrived to treat Marie. She was then driven by ambulance to Torbay Hospital where she remained for three days.
Marie made a fantastic recovery, and returned home for Christmas.
She said: “There was sheer panic. I’ve had asthma for most of my life, but it’s never been that bad before. It was a life or death situation. Without everyone’s help, and especially the CPR, I wouldn’t be here.”
Asthma is a common lung condition that can cause breathing difficulties. Around 5.4 million people in the UK have the disease, and an average of three people die from it every day.
Paramedic Sam Jarman said: “Mrs Flint-Fewkes represents a great example of how prompt, good quality treatment can save lives.
“The 999 Control Hub staff quickly recognised that the asthma attack was life-threatening, resulting in an effective response.
“We worked as a team to provide quality CPR, airway management, and special medications to help reverse her condition and open her airways.
“It’s fantastic to have had such a positive outcome for Mrs Flint-Fewkes. It is occasions like this that remind us all of why we do what we do.”
Signs of an asthma attack may include breathlessness, wheeziness, chest tightness, coughing, and speech difficulties.
If you think someone is having an asthma attack, sit them upright, and encourage them to take slow, steady breaths. If possible, get them to take one puff on an inhaler every 30-60 seconds up to a maximum of 10 puffs. If symptoms get worse, call 999 for an ambulance.
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.
If you suspect someone is having a cardiac arrest - dial 999, begin CPR, and use a defibrillator if one is available.
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