An amateur footballer has been reunited with a South Western Ambulance Service “hero” paramedic and two members of the public who saved his life when he had a cardiac arrest whilst driving.
Tony Timbrell, 58, from Bath, lost consciousness at the wheel of his Mercedes Estate at a busy junction in the city after playing football.
He said: “I remember feeling dizzy, but I decided to try and drive home anyway. Then my mind went blank until I woke up in hospital three days later.”
SWASFT Operations Officer Andy Richardson – together with Bath residents Ryan Jordan and Susan Baio – treated Tony at the scene on Pines Way to keep him alive.
Tony and Andy have developed a close bond since the incident in December 2012 – and now the whole group has been reunited for the first time.
Tony said: “I am hugely grateful for what they did for me. Between them they kept the oxygen going to my brain, to give me a fighting chance of survival.
“They lived every second of it; it must’ve been very traumatic. But without them I wouldn’t be here. They are absolute heroes.”
Self-employed builder, Ryan, 39, was travelling to meet a friend for dinner when he saw the stationary vehicle angled across two lanes of the highway.
He rushed over to find paint company sales manager, Tony, collapsed locked inside the vehicle with the engine still running.
“I knew he was in trouble,” Ryan said. “He was unconscious with saliva coming out of his mouth. Some people were walking and driving past, but I wanted to do something for him. He was fighting for his life.”
Ryan dialled 999, and Andy arrived in a rapid response vehicle within a couple of minutes.
Andy forced entry to the car by smashing the rear passenger window with an oxygen bottle, and Ryan dragged him out onto the ground.
Ryan was joined by Susan who carried out chest compressions on Tony together, while Andy provided advanced life support.
With the help of local police officers, the trio managed to get return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) before an ambulance arrived.
Former nursery owner, Susan, 57, said: “I saw the car and thought something wasn’t right. We were his only chance of survival.
“It seemed so unlikely he would come back to consciousness. But we kept going, because we were determined to keep him alive. I remember thinking ‘oxygen in, pump it around’. Then I saw some movement in his lips.
“I never expected to see him again though. So I was totally elated when Tony contacted me. It shows just how much difference people can make doing chest compressions together.”
Tony, who is married with three adult children, was taken to hospital and placed in an induced coma for three days. He went on to make a good recovery.
Ryan said: “No family wants to go through a tragedy just before Christmas. I could never have walked away. So I just got on with it and played my part. I was so pleased to hear Tony was alive. The outcome could have been so different.”
Andy added: “Even basic CPR dramatically improves someone’s chance of surviving. Tony is living proof of that. You don’t have to be highly skilled or professionally trained to do it. You just need to get stuck in and have a go.”
Tony and Andy meet-up every year at Christmas for a meal, and Tony gives gifts to Andy to express his continued gratitude.
Andy has also led a masterclass for Tony’s football team to teach them CPR.
A photo message tweeted by Andy on Christmas Day of him with Tony, received more than 10,000 views from locations including Canada and Australia.
Andy posted: “This is Tony, 5 years ago this month I intubated, cannulated and defibbed him. With the help of some bystanders and very helpful police we got ROSC. An ambulance arrived and we took him to ED. In over 20 years of service he is probably my greatest achievement!”
Tony later posted: “Just popped down to Bath Ambulance station to meet my hero paramedic.”
He concluded: “Having a cardiac arrest has helped me to put everything into perspective. You never know what could happen this afternoon or tomorrow.”