14th January 2019
The family of an elderly man, saved by the quick-thinking teamwork of a South Wales community, has called for more defibrillators to be fitted in public areas around Wales.
Terry O’Carroll was enjoying a dinner out in Cowbridge as part of a family get-together when he was taken ill. He would have almost certainly died, had it not been for the nearby presence of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED, commonly referred to as a defibrillator), fast-acting restaurant staff and members of the public.
Bar 44 put out a call for help while a staff member ran to The Bear Hotel where the AED was located. The call reached Christine Clarke who was enjoying a drink in a nearby pub. Medically-trained, Christine raced over and gave cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to Terry before shocking him with the AED. She continued CPR until the ambulance arrived.
Terry said: “I have no recollection of what happened. I remember being at Bar 44, our favourite eating place, and then waking up in Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend.
“Apparently I left this world for a minute, a minute-and-half maybe. But the right people were in the right place at the right time. They saved my life, no doubt about it.
“Whatever the support is needed to get these defib machines to be put in as many convenient places as possible, we should try and do it. Everyone should dig deep in their pockets to make it happen.”
The Bear Hotel’s AED is located in a Public Access Defibrillation Scheme (PADS) site, a nationwide network of locations where AEDs are available for use by members of the public or staff in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest.
Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust has trained more than 8,000 volunteers to operate more than 1,130 AEDs funded by Welsh Government, charities or individuals. The service also runs an annual campaign via social media in February, called Defibuary, to encourage people to find out where their nearest defibrillator is and how to use it in a life-threatening emergency.
Terry’s son Dominic, who was also at the get-together when his father was ill, paid tribute to the actions of the public and restaurant staff.
He said: “What they all did that night was absolutely fantastic and without any shadow of a doubt they saved his life. With extreme luck people with medical training came to our aid. Then the speed that the Welsh Ambulance paramedics got there was quite remarkable too. They picked up the red alert call and were there rapidly.”
Over 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrests out of hospital in the UK every year, while in 2017 there were 9,800 hospital visits in Wales attributed to a heart attack or cardiac arrest. For every minute without CPR and defibrillation a person’s chance of survival decreases by 10%.
It is the second time the AED at The Bear Hotel has been used to help save a life.
Dominic added: “You don’t even have to be qualified to use a defib, it’s so intuitive. Even if you have no training, you can do something. I went back to my golf club and asked about a defib, and then said ‘Oh, I think we’ve got one somewhere.’ It’s important to know.”
AEDs are now accessible in places such as railway stations, leisure centres and even on the top of Snowdon. The NHS Direct website can help you find your nearest AED. Click here to view a map: http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/LocalServices/?s=DefibrillatorLocations
To become a member of a PADS user group, volunteers undertake two hours of training which teaches them how to administer the AED and carry out basic life-support skills. It is not essential to have training to use an AED but it will be helpful in the event of an emergency.
If you are interested in establishing a PADS site or joining an existing team please contact the PADS Office on: 01633 471354.
For further information, please contact email@example.com or call our media line on 01745 532511.
Story of a Life-Saving Community
- Terry O’Carroll is taken ill at Bar 44 and 999 is dialed
- Bar 44 diner Kate McPhail - a trained midwife - runs over to check for breathing/pulse
- Bar 44 puts out call to help to other businesses
- Duke of Wellington pub - the singer puts out the help call; Christine Clarke responds
- Christine gives CPR to Terry
- Max from Bar 44 runs over to The Bear Hotel to fetch the defib
- Christine shocks Terry with the defib and continues CPR
- Emergency Medical Technology Steve Hutchinson arrives from Welsh Ambulance Service and takes over, conveys Terry to the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend
- Terry makes a full recovery and now - with monitored pacemaker fitted - leaves a normal life