A Crawley man has been reunited with a number of the ambulance team who helped save his life a year on from suffering a cardiac arrest.

Retired Health and Safety Officer, Dave Mortimer, 67, visited South East Coast Ambulance Service’s Make Ready Centre in Crawley this week to pass on his thanks in person for the team’s effort.

Dave was accompanied by Nicky Carr and Steve Grant, who as an off-duty student nurse and off-duty Met Police officer respectively, sprang into action to help, calling 999 and commencing CPR when Dave collapsed at the wheel of his car at Three Bridges Tesco petrol station on 16 April 2023.

The trio have since gone on to become good friends and recently celebrated with a meal to mark Dave’s ‘alive’ day on the anniversary of his cardiac arrest.

With support from Nicky, Steve performed around seven minutes of chest compressions while on the phone to SECAmb Emergency Medical Advisor, Layah Garside.

Critical Care Paramedic (CCP), Bradley Gander was first to arrive at the scene with Paramedic, Carly Scarborough.

“When I arrived at the scene, it was clear to me that Steve was delivering excellent chest compressions,” said Bradley. “It’s always a welcome sight to see when we arrive at a cardiac arrest. Their quick-thinking and actions were absolutely vital in ensuring Dave was given the very best chance of survival.”

Bradley and Carly were joined at the scene by then Student Paramedic, Craig Higginson and Associate Ambulance Practitioner, James Dickson as well as CCP, Carl Tocknell, and Operational Team Leader, Phil Smith.

Dave received a shock with a defibrillator to establish a more normal rhythm for his heart and was stabilised and sedated before being rushed to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, requiring a further shock en route to hospital.

After being fitted with a stent, Dave spent 10 days in an induced coma and three further weeks recovering in hospital.

Dave, who was due to drive to Wales on the day of his collapse, said: “I have little, if any, memory of what happened, but I have pieced together various pieces of information and found that I had purchased a bottle of Gaviscon for pain I had put down to being indigestion - I obviously was having a heart attack.

“I feel so privileged to have met the team to thank them in person. I will forever be grateful for everything everyone did to save my life. In Nicky and Steve I have two new amazing friends for life and I and my whole family are so thankful to them both for stopping to help me despite they both had their children with them in their cars. They truly made the difference.

“The hospital team, from who I received brilliant care too, explained to me that I only suffered two per cent damage to my heart and this is down to how quickly and expertly everyone responded. Throughout my own career I have done a fair bit of planning and I don’t think I could have planned the response and treatment I received any better!”

“I am humbled by the professionalism and skills of each and every one of these people honed by their years of training and experience. I feel blessed and honored to have met them to pay this tribute. It means everything to me.”

Steve said: “I’ve been trained in CPR for many years in my role as a prison officer and now in the police. Sadly, I hadn’t had a successful resuscitation before and it was a very different situation and quite scary to suddenly have to deliver CPR off duty. I would encourage everyone to take the time to learn CPR though and not be afraid to use it if needed. It was great to find out that Dave had survived and go on to become friends with him and Nicky, who gave me amazing support at the scene. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Nicky said: “I’m in awe of ambulance crews. Steve was amazing and then the teams did a fantastic job. Dave, Steve and I will be friends forever.”

CCP, Bradley added: “The actions of Steve and Nicky meant that were in the best possible position we could be to commence advanced life support and aid Dave’s survival. They should both be very proud of everything they did. It was an amazing team effort from start to finish which continued at hospital. On behalf of all my colleagues I’d like to wish Dave and his family all the very best for the future.”