life-saving treatment from bystanders and ambulance crews saw a
retired Guildford GP make a stunning recovery from a cardiac arrest
to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding just 12 days

Dr John Williams, his wife Jane and daughter Helen, made an
emotional visit to Guildford Ambulance Station to thank the
ambulance crews who helped save his life when he collapsed suddenly
on August 20. The visit provided John and his family with a chance
to thank the crews in person and fill in a few of the blanks from
the day.

The last thing the active 70-year-old remembers is enjoying a
Sunday cycle ride on his own in Guildford before waking up in
Frimley Park Hospital’s cardiac suite.

“I couldn’t understand why I was there,” he said. “I hadn’t had
any of the classic symptoms of any heart problems and actually felt
very well but fate was on my side that day.”

Luckily for John a passing driver saw him fall and immediately
called 999 where SECAmb Emergency Medical Advisor Hayley Philps
took the call who quickly provided instructions and gathered the
necessary information from the scene.

A second stroke of good fortune was the arrival of bystander
Craig Ryall, a highly-trained helicopter medic with the United
Nations from Wales, who was in the town to visit the

Craig, who only came across John because he chose to ignore his
vehicle’s sat nav instructions, was giving excellent cardio
pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when the first SECAmb crews arrived
at the scene.

The vital early CPR kept John alive to allow the ambulance team
of paramedic Adam Blackshaw, associate practitioner Sam McGowan;
recently arrived Australian paramedic Ellen Kemp and response car
paramedic Sam Vickers to administer a shock which restarted his

They were quickly backed up critical care paramedics Kenny
O’Driscoll and Nathan Ward, who sedated John for the journey to
Frimley Park, where he was quickly given stents to open a
completely-blocked coronary artery. The team was also well
supported throughout by Operational Team Leader Lesley

“It was a traumatic time for us,” said John’s wife Jane, who
usually would have been out riding with John.

“The first we heard of what had happened was when the police
called round. They were tremendous rushing us to the hospital to be
with John but also we were right in the middle of preparing for
Helen’s wedding with my one son already on a flight over from

“But John made a quite amazing recovery and was in hospital just
five days. He was then well enough to walk Helen down the aisle,
although I am quite sure who was supporting who.

“We are just so grateful to everyone who came to John’s aid on
the day of his accident, from the people who stopped, to the
ambulance crews who rushed to his side and of course all the
hospital staff. It made the wedding just that little bit extra
special for all of us.”

John, a former cardiac registrar, who retired as a family GP
five years ago, is now back on his bike and even back working part
time with very little neural deficit other than memory loss from
the day.

“It was just wonderful to be able to meet these amazing people
today,” he said. “They were able to help fill in the blanks from
the day and the worst effect I have been suffering is a sore
shoulder which took the impact when I fell from my bike.

“The wedding was a wonderful day for us all and the only down
side was Jane and I had to cancel a cycling holiday we had planned
across Cambodia.”

SECAmb Team Leader Lesley said: “It was fantastic to see John
again looking so well, meet Jane, his daughters Helen and Sarah and
the grandchildren. It is a big boost for the crews to meet patients
who have made a good recovery from such a dramatic collapse in the
street. It is part and parcel of our work but we don’t often get
the chance to celebrate our successes. On behalf of the team we
wish them all the very best for the future.”

The crews certainly enjoyed the cake John and Jane brought
filled with the damson jam Jane had been making the day of John’s
sudden collapse.