Mum of two thanks ambulance service this Christmas for saving her life
A mum of two whose heart stopped beating for more than 20 minutes has thanked London Ambulance Service staff for saving her life and giving her the opportunity to spend Christmas with her family.
On 13 July 2021 Kate Laurie (44) had just sat down with her new boss Tim Mitchell on her second day as the Director of People and Culture at Orbus Software.
As Tim started running through the induction, Kate started to feel unwell and suddenly collapsed on the floor. It was in this moment that Tim realised something was seriously wrong and immediately dialled 999.
He spoke with London Ambulance Service call handler Asad Ali, who started directing him through how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
In a cardiac arrest, every second counts and without lifesaving intervention the chances of survival decrease by about 10% with every passing minute.
Asad said: “Tim was brilliant, and very calm on the phone. He listened to my instructions carefully and organised for his colleagues to get help and support him whilst he carried on performing CPR.
“Luckily my colleagues noticed there were London Ambulance Service cycle paramedics outside on Buckingham Palace Road and were able to ask for help, as I arranged for a number of resources to be sent to Kate’s side.”
It was then that the first medics started to arrive on scene and took over chest compressions and attached a defibrillator to Kate, who was still clinically dead at the time.
A team of clinicians then battled to save her life including: incident response officer Pete Fisher, cycle paramedics Carol Summers and Tony Brady, advanced paramedics, Nikki Hewitt and Nick Brown and medics Michaela Shaw, Andy Meyer, Renee Munro and Paul Kelly.
Nikki said: “I knew that the brilliant efforts from my colleagues, performing CPR immediately, and getting the defibrillator to her so quickly, had given her the best chance of surviving. We then did everything we could to restart her heart.”
Fortunately, the team did just that and after five shocks of the defibrillator, Kate’s heart started to pump blood around her body again. Renee, Paul and Nikki quickly took her to St Thomas’ Hospital where Kate was put into an induced coma for seven days to help stabilise her condition.
Kate then spent the next five weeks in hospital recovering, and after a number of tests, she was diagnosed with a very rare condition, cardiac sarcoidosis.
As a sporty person and hockey coach, this came as a huge surprise. Kate said: “The whole experience has really made me reflect upon the life I lived before. I am so fortunate, all the wonderful people I have around me have been so utterly supportive throughout.
“I’ve always been a person to live every day like it could be my last, but this experience has really emphasised how precious life is and how only I can impact what I do with it.”
After recovering in hospital, Kate was well enough to go home, and was reunited with her sons Reuben (13) and Jasper (14), who, apart from regular video calls, she hadn’t seen during that time. She said: “Being together with them and my husband Tom again and being able to hug them tight was the most incredible feeling.
“I’m so grateful for everyone who made this possible especially Tim. Those two minutes he was performing CPR before the medics arrived, made all that difference to my outcome.”
Recently Kate was able to meet the call handler and medics who saved her life to thank them for everything they did that day. Tim and her family also joined them at London Ambulance Service HQ to reflect on everyone’s actions that day.
Now back at work and enjoying a few sessions on the tennis court, Kate continues her recovery and is keen to raise awareness of the importance of learning lifesaving skills such as CPR.
Kate said: “I really would encourage everyone to learn CPR and to be brave enough to use those skills if needed.
“Tim, the call handler and medics did not only save my life, they have given me the opportunity to make so many more precious memories with my awesome family.
“You really could not give any one a better gift than that.”
Read more about what a cardiac arrest is and what you can do to help a person in cardiac arrest here.