Battersea lady reunited with ambulance staff that saved her life

A 91-year-old Battersea lady, who was rescued from a cardiac arrest at her home, has been reunited with the ambulance crews who saved her life.

Thanks to the quick-thinking of London Ambulance Service staff, Mary Davies, retired, was able to enjoy a cup of tea and slice of cake with Paramedic Max Cummins and Emergency Medical Technicians Tina Mansell and Richard Murphy at her home yesterday (Tuesday 31 October).

Mrs Davies described that Saturday in early August: “I came home from getting my hair done and had something to eat. After lunch I started to get a really sharp pain in my chest so I called CareLine who immediately called an ambulance.”

In eight minutes Richard was first on the scene in a rapid response car, and immediately started treating Mrs Davies. Tina and Max arrived a few minutes later.

Tina said: “I was talking to Mrs Davies in her sitting room when all of a sudden she went into cardiac arrest. We had the defibrillator with us, so we quickly set about restarting her heart; it was really lucky that we were there, because with cardiac arrest every second counts. After one shock she had regained a pulse and was talking again!”

On the ambulance Tina and Max used specialist medical equipment to confirm that Mrs Davies had suffered a heart attack followed by a cardiac arrest. Tina said: “We ascertained that she would be best treated by a procedure called primary angioplasty, so we took Mrs Davies to the specialist department at St Thomas’ Hospital.

“Angioplasty is a treatment where the blockage in the patient’s artery that causes the heart attack is removed by inserting a catheter and inflating a balloon, it is effective in 90–95 per cent of cases. There are a number of pioneering hospitals in London that admit patients for the procedure straight away, giving Londoners the best chance of survival from heart attacks.”

After a few days recovering in hospital Mrs Davies, who has lived on Albert Bridge Road for 39 years, was well enough to return home.

After meeting Max, Tina and Richard she said: “It was nice to meet the people again who came to my aid that day.”

– Ends –

Notes to editors

Cardiac arrest information

  • The Service is called to approximately 10,000 cardiac arrest patients per year.
  • The survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is up from 5 per cent in 2001–2002 to 8.6 per cent for 2004–05 (based on 3,500 cardiac arrests of a presumed cardiac cause where resuscitation was attempted). These figures are based on an internationally used survival calculation called Utstein which calculates the percentage of patients discharged from hospital alive, out of the total number of patients that the Service attempts to resuscitate following a cardiac arrest of a ‘presumed cardiac cause’—where the heart has ‘gone wrong’, that are bystander witnessed and have an initial cardiac rhythm of VF/VT.

Statistics for April 2004–March 2005

  • Most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in London occur:
    • in December
    • in the morning between the hours of 08:00 and 12:00
    • on a Saturday
  • Around three-quarters of cardiac arrests in London occur in the home (this includes private homes, nursing homes, relatives’ homes).
  • Just under half of cardiac arrests are witnessed by bystanders.
  • Bystanders give CPR in less than a third of all cardiac arrests.
  • The average age of people who suffer a cardiac arrest in London is 67 years old.
  • Just under two-thirds of those who suffer a cardiac arrest are male.

Heart attack treatment

  • 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.
  • As of 1 April 2006, the hospitals are:
    • 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.