Possibly one of the worst places to suffer a
cardiac arrest could be in a narrow house barge moored at low
But a remarkable team effort by crews from South East Coast
Ambulance Service (SECAmb) saw 68-year-old Diane Savage not only
resuscitated but well enough to personally thank them at a reunion
at Medway Ambulance Station.
Diane and husband David, from Bermondsey, were
visiting daughter Johanne and their son-in-law at the barge moored
at Castle View Marina in Strood for the weekend on May 15 earlier
this year when she suddenly collapsed inside the boat with
Diane had suffered a pulmonary embolism caused
by a blood clot and first on scene within minutes of the 11am 999
call were Technicians Darren Jensen and Adrian Roberts from a
private provider contracted by SECAmb.
They were busy assessing her when Paramedic
Michael Fothergill, a Clinical Team Leader, arrived to take over
management of the scene.
“Diane was still conscious at this stage but
with severe breathing problems,” said Michael. “She was clearly in
danger of having a cardiac arrest and with the difficulties of the
location I quickly called in our Hazardous Area Response Team
(HART) from Ashford.”
More support came from Paramedic Tom Landers
and Emergency Care Support Worker Gareth Jordan and within minutes
Michael’s fears were realised when Diane went into cardiac
CPR was started by the crews in the tight
conditions while Diane’s family could only watch helplessly from
the deck as the crews battled to save her.
Critical Care Paramedic Dave Hawkins arrived
to provide advanced life support and, crucially in Diane’s case,
was able to thrombolise her with blood thinning drugs giving
essential early treatment on the scene.
He was also able to set up a Lucas device
which gives consistent automatic chest compressions and releases
the rest of the crew to concentrate on other tasks.
“The crews had done an amazing job giving mum
CPR and were exhausted,” said Diane’s daughter Johanne.
The crews worked for the best part of an hour
just to stabilise Diane and get a return to spontaneous circulation
while the HART team set about planning to extricate her from the
Team Leader Al Crawford and his team, Karen
Simons, Nick Walker, Sean Simmonds and Alex Clark, had to remove a
barge window to enable them to stretcher her, secured by ropes, up
a plank to the bank while still monitoring her condition.
Diane was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital
where she spent a week mostly in an induced coma to speed
Medway Clinical Operations Manager Terry Baker
said: “It was an extraordinary piece of teamwork involving so many
of our sections from the private ambulance providers who support
our efforts, to our crews working in difficult conditions, the HART
team and Critical Care Paramedic Dave Hawkins providing additional
“I am just so thankful to be able to be here
to thank them all,” said Diane. “They saved my life. I don’t
remember much after collapsing and then waking up in hospital three
days later but Johanne said they all worked so hard to get me back
and just wouldn’t give up.”
“I just knew I had to be out by the end of the
week to attend my eldest son’s funeral which was on the Monday and
they gave me that chance.”
Diane and David are keen motorcyclists and it
was a delight for the crews to see her back on the bikes after
their visit to Medway Station.