A defibrillator has been donated to Horsham town centre by a man who suffered a heart attack and rearrested five times en route to hospital.
Horsham man Neil James, 54, has funded the life-saving equipment and been reunited the team of paramedics who saved his life after he fell ill on a fishing trip in August.
He said: “I, my family and friends wanted to meet everyone involved face to face to say thank you. In our daily lives we constantly say thank you to people – people such as the shop assistant, the postman, the delivery driver.
“I strongly feel that just saying thank you to all those that saved my life is not enough. I therefore donated a new defibrillator so that it can be used in Horsham to help save other people’s lives. You can’t put a price on a person’s life.
“The hospital staff were amazing. I’ve also had good support from my GP and have recently started a six-week course of rehabilitation classes and I’m recovering slowly but well.”
Father of two Neil felt unwell after arriving at the fishing lake in East Hoathly, near Lewes, on August 28.
He said he felt unwell and became out of breath with chest pain two weeks earlier but ignored his family’s advice to visit his GP.
On the day, Neil arrived before his friends, Adam and Henry Richards and Lea Harrison, and felt a severe pain across his chest along with nausea and faintness.
He said: “I also had a thumping headache and didn’t want to keep my eyes open.
“I knew I was extremely poorly and when the others arrived I asked them to call an ambulance.”
Due to the remote location, Henry rushed the half mile to the main road to wave down South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) crews while emergency medical advisor Molly Smith provided advice over the phone.
Neil said: “Molly was very professional when talking to my colleagues and continually asked what symptoms I was suffering while behind the scenes help was being organised to get assistance to me as soon as possible.
“She asked to talk to me but I was too ill to speak more than a handful of words. She kept everyone calm.”
On the arrival of the ambulance team, paramedic practitioner Stuart Rutland, ambulance technician Trevor Comber and paramedic Kevin Allsobrook, it became clear the ambulance would not be able to get close to the lake.
Stuart, who attended by car, drove to Neil to bring him to the ambulance - but moments later Neil went into cardiac arrest.
After stabilising Neil with a defibrillator shock and CPR, the team began driving to Royal Sussex County Hospital, but he rearrested another five times en route to hospital and went on to receive a total of nine shocks.
Neil spent four days in hospital before being discharged.
Stuart Rutland added: “It was great to see Neil again and to meet and speak to his family and friends.
“We don’t often get to see our patients again and I was really struck by Neil’s appreciation of us as a team.
“On behalf of all my colleagues I’d like to wish Neil all the very best for the future.”
SECAmb and the local community first responders will be working to establish the best location for the defibrillator in Horsham town centre.
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