Ambulance Technician Brian Martin has seen too many deaths from cardiac arrest in his line of work.
Despite doing everything to arrive at the scene of a cardiac arrest as quickly as possible, paramedics are often too late to save a life.
Now, 52-year-old Brian reveals that he himself would have been another grim statistic if it hadn’t been for a life-saving portable device that shocks the heart back into action.
The father of two was playing five-a-side football with paramedic colleagues from the Scottish Ambulance Service when he suddenly became dizzy and started to see flashing lights.
The next he remembers waking up in the back of the ambulance.
Although he was immediately attended to by Paramedics giving him CPR, what saved his life was the portable defibrillator.
A quick-thinking colleague had raced to a nearby Scotstoun Sports Centre, where one had been installed just days earlier as part of the British Heart Foundation’s Saving Lives Appeal. “There was no warning” said Brian from Glasgow. “I wasn’t breathless or in any pain”. “My heart stopped for 7 minutes when I was attended to by the defibrillator”. “If I had been relying on the ambulance, I’d have been dead, it’s as simple as that”. “My colleagues gave me CPR, but it didn’t really work”. “The defib was used just once and it got my heart working again”. “The next day, I had a pacemaker fitted above my heart. It does a similar job to the defib. I will have it for the rest of my life”. “A week after my cardiac arrest, I was back at the sports centre with a thank you card for my friends and colleagues”. “As an ambulance technician, I’ve seen families devastated by cardiac arrest deaths”.
Brian, however, is a rare cardiac arrest success story.
According to Head Start, a charity that funds defibrillators, 75,000 lives could be saved each year in the UK by wider availability of the device.
Duncan Turnbull, senior partner for First Aid Scotland, said: “Statistics show that if a cardiac arrest patient is treated with a defibrillator within a minute, then they have a 97% chance of survival. It falls to just 7% if it takes nine minutes. An average call out time from an ambulance is about nine minutes”. The Scottish Ambulance Service is delighted that Brian is on the mend. A Spokesman said: “It is our dream to have defibs as commonplace as fire extinguishers”.