Flying instructor thanks team who saved his life

Photo, L-R: Nurses Helen Cunningham and Molly Bartlett,  Phil James, paramedic Craig Prentice and nurse Andy Kyeremeh

A flying instructor has been reunited with the team of medics who saved his life after he suffered a cardiac arrest at the wheel of his car.

Phil James, a father and grandfather, was on his way to work at Redhill Aerodrome when he suddenly fell ill, veered across the road and collided with another car in South Nutfield.

East Surrey Hospital nurses Molly Bartlett and Andy Kyeremeh, who were also on their way to work, were first on scene and carried out CPR along with Helen Cunningham, a nurse who was also passing by.

The Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance crew then arrived on scene and their doctor, Jonathan Leung, and paramedic, Craig Prentice, helped to successfully resuscitate Phil at the roadside. Phil was then flown to the specialist coronary care unit at St George’s Hospital in London in under eight minutes, where he spent 13 days and had an internal defibrillator fitted.

Phil has since made a good recovery and recently met the people who had worked together to save his life, at the air ambulance base at Redhill.

He said: “Before the accident, I remember driving very slowly and just not feeling right. After that, the next thing I remember was waking up in St George’s Hospital. I’m so grateful to Helen, Molly and Andy for acting so quickly, and to Jonathan and Craig for their subsequent response and further treatment – I really do owe them my life.”

Phil and Craig (Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance paramedic), already knew each other through their connection in flying light aircraft. Phil said: “I bumped into Craig just the day before. He was with his colleague, Dr Jonathan Leung and introduced us. I had a good chat with them and ended the conversation by saying that I hoped I never needed them. The very next day, I did need them.”

Phil had no history of heart trouble prior to suffering a cardiac arrest. He is unable to drive or fly for six months but is expected to make a full recovery.

Craig said: “When someone has a cardiac arrest, it is very much a team effort within the chain of survival from the initial first aid, to the ambulance service arriving, to the onward treatment at hospital. It was great to see Phil back on his feet and looking well so soon.”

Fiona Allsop, chief nurse at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “I am so proud to know that the selfless actions of Molly and Andy made such a significant difference to Phil and I am delighted to learn that he is on the road to recovery.”

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Date Posted: 16th August 2017