Horsham heart victim says thanks to the ‘heroes’ who saved him

Cardiac victim Willelm Pretorius with ambulance crews who saved his life SUS-180725-153504001
Cardiac victim Willelm Pretorius with ambulance crews who saved his life SUS-180725-153504001

A man who collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest while out running has been reunited with the ambulance crews who saved his life.

Willem Pretorius, 42, collapsed outside the Rising Sun pub in Pondtail Road, Horsham, on the afternoon of March 26 last year. A number of people at the scene rushed to help. They included Gavin and Sam Hockley - now good friends with Willem - who joined Willem when he visited the South East Coast Ambulance Service’s Gatwick centre to thank the medics who saved him.

And now Willem, who completed the British 10K in London earlier this month, will be joined by some of the ambulance team when he takes place in the Run Reigate 10K on September 16.

Three SECAmb crews came to Willem’s aid following his collapse after the alarm was raised and the 999 call handled by emergency medical advisor Megan Beecham. First to arrive was ambulance technician Steff Davies and paramedic Adrian Longhurst who were on the scene in just three minutes. They quickly set about providing CPR and shock to restart Willem’s heart after he deteriorated quickly.

Steff and Adrian were joined by paramedic Karen Bell and emergency care support worker Mark Lucas before critical care paramedic Karen Clarke and paramedic Frida Haeggman also joined the team. They set about readying Willem for the journey to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton for specialist treatment – the whole period, from the time of the 999 call to Willem’s arrival at hospital, taking well under an hour.

At hospital Willem had a stent fitted to clear the blockage that caused the cardiac arrest before being discharged 16 days later.

Steff said: “It’s been great to meet with Willem and see him looking so well. It was a real team effort and I’m proud to have played my part.”

Willem, who hopes to return to his work in IT in the future, said: “Every one of the ambulance team are my heroes. I’ve always been a very positive person and this has only reinforced that for me. That said, the last year hasn’t been easy and I’m still managing the effects of an injury to my brain. But I’ve been told that my heart is now in a really good condition albeit I have a fair few medicines to take.

“I’ve made some good friends including Sam and Gavin through this and I’m so grateful for everything everyone did for me.”

Paramedic Karen Clarke added: “When I arrived, Steff and everyone else had done a great job in resuscitating Willem. We then worked closely together get him ready for hospital. It was a textbook job from start to finish. It’s been a pleasure to meet with Willem in better circumstances and I wish him all the very best for the future.”