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13th Oct 2021

During one of my regular trips to the gym, in the middle of a workout I’d done many times, I suffered a cardiac arrest in Sittingbourne.

Staff noticed on CCTV that I had collapsed. They called 999, commenced CPR and used a defibrillator to shock my heart back into a normal rhythm.

I don’t remember any of it, but I understand it was seven minutes from the alarm being pressed until the emergency services arrived, so they had to keep going for that long.

When the Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) doctor and paramedic arrived, I was in a critical condition. The lack of oxygen to my brain meant I was having fits and there was a risk of brain damage and going back into cardiac arrest.

They stabilised me and gave me a general anaesthetic which was essential as it reduced the workload on my heart, stopped me from fitting and meant I could be taken to the William Harvey Hospital by air. Otherwise I would have had to survive a 45-minute road journey.

Once there it was all systems go with an angiogram, head scan and so on. Fortunately, I was totally out of it.

After 18 days in hospital, several of them in a coma, I was fitted with a device to regulate my heart rhythms (an Implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD) before I returned home.

Without what was done at the gym, I would not have survived, it was crucial. If they hadn’t had a defibrillator, and if the guys had not known how to give CPR, I would not be here today.

I understand that just one in ten people in the UK survives a cardiac arrest outside a hospital, so things were against me.

CPR is a great thing to learn. During my rehabilitation I went on a half day CPR course, and I would urge everyone to learn how to do it.”

I will be eternally grateful to everyone whose help that day meant I survived.

I visited the gym and saw the three guys who administered CPR, which was brilliant. It was highly emotional for all concerned. I then went to the William Harvey Hospital to the ICU and saw a couple of the people who had helped me there. That was highly charged too.

The KSS team played a huge part in my survival and I went to see them and was able to meet Allan McHenry, one of the Critical Care Paramedics that day.

I would like to encourage everyone to go and learn about CPR and familiarise themselves with defibrillators, as you never know when it could be needed.

Earlier this year I heard of someone who’d had to do CPR on his wife and he was told that he had saved her life. It’s vital that people know about these things. It’s pretty straightforward and if you look on the BHF site it tells you what you can and can’t do. You don’t need to do `mouth to mouth’, it’s just a matter of keeping the CPR going.

Graham Martin
Graham Martin
Graham with his grandchildren
Graham with his grandchildren

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