A 53-year-old father of four, who cheated death after collapsing at work, is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family thanks to the quick response of a Heathrow-based ambulanceman on a bicycle who saved his life.
Graham Clark, a British Airways customer service arrivals agent, was reunited shortly before Christmas with the emergency medical technician who saved his life in August.
Mr Clark had been sitting with his work colleagues in a rest room at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal One when he suffered severe pain in his chest and arms. Within seconds, he lost consciousness and stopped breathing. His British Airways colleagues immediately dialled 999 for an ambulance and began attempts to resuscitate him.
“All I can remember is getting up from the sofa and saying to my colleagues that my chest and arm hurt,” explained Mr Clark. “After that, everything went blank.”
Within seconds of the 999 call being made, Bicycle Emergency Medical Technician Mick Hampson reached Mr Clark. Mick was able to continue resuscitation and re-start Mr Clark’s heart after three attempts using the portable defibrillator that is carried on ambulance bicycles.
Paramedics, dispatched in an ambulance at the same time as the bicycle ambulance, arrived a few minutes later to continue treatment and take Mr Clark to Hillingdon Hospital.
“I was definitely in the right place at the right time,” said Mick, “but this resuscitation—along with the others we attend here—shows how well-suited bicycles are to reaching patients quickly inside the Airport.
“The bicycle ambulance unit was only introduced at Heathrow Airport a year ago. The fact that we are based here now and were able to get to him so quickly, most probably made the difference between life and death.”
Mick emphasised the importance of quick intervention when someone suffers a cardiac arrest and took the opportunity to remind members of the public that they can learn cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at free ‘Heartstart’ classes given across the capital by the London Ambulance Service, and supported by the British Heart Foundation.
“Effective CPR ‘buys’ time for a patient and doubles a person’s chances of survival.”
Guidelines published by the American Heart Association state that for every minute of delay in getting to a patient in cardiac arrest, the chances of successful resuscitation decrease by 10 per cent.
After a period of convalescence in hospital and at home, Mr Clark returned to work part-time at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1 in October, only two months after suffering his cardiac arrest.
“I’m so grateful to Mick and to my BA colleagues who have looked after me so well,” said Mr Clark. “It’s as if I’ve been given a second chance. I’m looking forward to being with my family and seeing my grandchildren more than ever this Christmas.”
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The attached photograph shows Bicycle Emergency Medical Technician Mick Hampson being reunited with his patient Graham Clark.
Note to editors
- Members of the public who wish to learn how to carry out cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) free of charge can book a place by calling 020 7463 3120 or e-mailing [email protected].
- The Service is currently in negotiation with BAA to expand the Heathrow Airport-based Cycle Response Unit to the central terminal area.
- The Unit operates on 11-hour shifts (5.30am until 4.30pm), seven days a week.
- The Service is aware of only one other international airport, Vancouver, which has a bicycle ambulance team.
- The Heathrow Airport bicycle ambulance unit comprises four emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
- The bicycles are sent to all types of calls within the Airport and, where the patient is believed to be in a life-threatening condition, it is sent at the same time as an ambulance so that treatment can be started before the crew arrives.
- In cases where the patient is believed to be suffering from a more minor injury or illness, a bicycle paramedic or emergency medical emergency technician is sent initially on his own and can then request further assistance if required—freeing up ambulances to attend other, potentially life-threatening, 999 calls in and around the Airport.
- The four riders have been trained to the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) standard and the team’s bicycles, which are fitted with blue lights and sirens, carry a range of equipment, including a heart-starting defibrillator, oxygen and pain-relieving gas.
- The bicycles themselves are the same as those used by the traffic-busting cycle response unit already working in and around the West End of London.