Ilford man reunited with ambulance staff who saved his life with pioneering procedure

A 73-year-old Ilford man, who was rescued from a heart attack after receiving pioneering medical treatment, has been reunited with the ambulance crews who saved his life.

Thanks to the quick-thinking of London Ambulance Service staff and a ground-breaking cardiac procedure called primary angioplasty, Roy Bush, a retired man from Seven Kings, was able to enjoy a cup of tea with Emergency Medical Technician Albert Goodwin and Paramedics Paul Staunton and Ian Mayor at Ilford Ambulance Station yesterday (Thursday 7 September).

Mr Bush, who had never had heart problems before, described that Thursday in March: “I had been helping to move chairs at my local church when I began to feel a quite unwell. I thought it was indigestion as I’d had an early lunch, so I decided to drive home. Then I started to feel tightness in my chest, and was very hot and sweaty.

“When I got home I asked my wife to call an ambulance as I thought I was having a heart attack, and within a few minutes the ambulance crews arrived.”

Paul was first on the scene in a rapid response car, closely followed by ambulance crew Ian and Albert. They immediately started treating Mr Bush with oxygen and, using elite London Ambulance Service training, diagnosed a particular type of heart attack using specialist equipment carried by each ambulance in the capital.

Using this equipment the crews assessed that Mr Bush would receive greater benefit from primary angioplasty, a cardiac procedure in which the patient bypasses hospital A&E and is taken directly to surgery. Angioplasty is recognised as the best possible treatment for a heart attack.

Ian explained: “When we got to King George’s Hospital we put in a call to the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green to see if we could get Mr Bush a place. The new agreement with hospitals wasn’t due to start for another couple of weeks, but we got the all clear and 20 minutes after leaving the patient’s home we were handing him over to staff at London Chest.”

Mr Bush was assessed by staff at the London Chest before being taken to surgery. He said: “The handover was really smooth; I signed a consent form, was given local anaesthetic and was taken to surgery. You can even watch the operation on a TV screen!

“At five o’clock my family arrived. They said they could hear me talking on the ward before they saw me, and couldn’t believe I was about already!

“After three days I was out of hospital and back at home, and I haven’t had any problems since. It’s been amazing.”

Paul stressed the benefits of primary angioplasty: “When a patient is having a heart attack it usually means there’s a clot in the artery. It’s very important to unblock the artery as quickly as possible, to give the patient the best chance of survival; every second counts. Without primary angioplasty the patient could be waiting in A&E when they could be receiving life-saving treatment instead.”

Mr Bush said: “It’s really good to meet up the people who saved my life. If it hadn’t have been for their quick-thinking and excellent care I may not have had the chance to be here and thank them in person.”

– Ends – 

Notes to editors

  • The Service has helped set up a network of nine hospitals where heart attack patients can be taken directly for primary angioplasty, bypassing A&E departments and offering the best chances of survival and speedy recovery.
    • Hammersmith
    • King’s College
    • Royal Free
    • Harefield
    • London Chest
    • St Thomas’
    • St George’s
    • St Mary’s
    • Royal Free
  • These centres are now open 24/7.
  • Angioplasty is a procedure where clots in the artery are unblocked through the insertion of a catheter and the inflation of a balloon in the affected area.
  • Outside of London, the typical emergency treatment for heart attacks is the administration of a thrombolytic (clot-busting) drug. However, thrombolysis has only a 60-70 per cent success rate and the rate of patients who suffer a further clot (heart attack) is high as are the risks of serious bleeding and stroke.
  • Angioplasty has been shown to be more effective, achieving a normal flow of blood in around 90-95 per cent of cases.

For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7921 5113.