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Life-saving ambulance team reunited with cardiac arrest survivor

10 April 2018

Reunion photoA Burgess Hill woman has been reunited with the ambulance team who helped save her life when she suffered a cardiac arrest.

Mum-of-three, Alexandra Watts, 38, who has made an amazing recovery which has seen her complete two charity 5K runs, was joined by her husband Stuart at Burgess Hill Ambulance Station recently. There, the couple were able to thank the ambulance team who came to her aid in on the evening of 25 February 2016.

The reunion followed a warming thank you letter sent by the Alexandra with a photo of her and her family together on their first holiday abroad in Lanzarotte, following her recovery.

Alexandra had collapsed after feeling unwell when at home with her three children, then aged 2, 5 and 8. Husband Stuart arrived home from work and soon realised something wasn’t right and decided to call 999. While on the phone to Emergency Medical Advisor Katie Stringer, Alexandra, became unresponsive and Katie recognised agonal breathing.

reunionAmbulance crews were dispatched as Stuart began CPR under Katie’s instruction before Paramedic Sue Barnett and Ambulance Technician Jean-Pierre Ball arrived at the scene in a little over four minutes and took over the resuscitation. Further support arrived in the form of volunteer Community First Responder Jasmine Hughes and Paramedic Laura Walker before the air ambulance team of Dr Matt Miller and Critical Care Paramedic Simon Goodwin joined their colleagues at the scene.

By this point Alexandra had been resuscitated but needed to be placed in an induced coma by the air ambulance team so they could treat her more easily.

Her expert treatment continued at Royal Sussex County Hospital where she was fitted with a stent that evening. However, Alexandra was far from out of the woods as she suffered two further cardiac arrests and underwent further emergency surgery while her family were told to be prepared for the worst.

Over a three-week period, however, and following further procedures as well as a transfer to Harefield Hospital in London, Alexandra’s condition improved and she came out of her coma.

Harefield 5K“I remember being so pleased to recognise people when I came round,” said Alexandra, who has fully recovered and had an internal defibrillator fitted.

“At first I was convinced that I had been in a car crash. I’m just really thankful for everything everyone did. I’m having ongoing check-ups but in essence I can do pretty much everything I want to.”

Alexandra had opted to take voluntary redundancy from her civil service job just weeks before her cardiac arrest. With Stuart also choosing to do the same, the couple admit they went a little bit mad in 2017, travelling the world and enjoying new experiences with their children.

“We had a really good year and wanted to give the kids some good memories after everything that had happened, said Alexandra.”

Stuart added: “I can’t really put into words how grateful we are. It’s been amazing to see everyone again and say thank you face-to-face. I’d also like to thank our family and friends who have been so supportive and helpful.”

Critical Care Paramedic Simon Goodwin said: “This was a real team effort right from the moment Stuart started CPR under Katie’s instruction. The team did a fantastic job getting Alexandra’s heart started again before I arrived at the scene with Matt. We were then able to provide critical care support en route to Brighton so that Alexandra had the best chance of survival following expert care in hospital.”

Paramedic Sue added: “It was lovely meeting with Alexandra and Stuart. It’s very rare for patients to make such a full recovery and I’m delighted to have met with her to wish her and her family well. I’m very proud of everything everyone did.”

Alexandra and her family have now completed two Harefield 5K runs raising money for a new ICU for Harefield Hospital – the first just seven months after her cardiac arrest.

Anyone who would like to make a donation can visit her fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alexandra-watts2

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